Indian satellite GSAT-24 undergoing pre-launch performance checks in European spaceport

Written By: Sidharth MP WION
Chennai Updated: Jun 01, 2022, 01:56 PM(IST)

GSAT-24 satellite built by ISRO to be launched from French Guiana  Photograph:( Twitter )

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GSAT-24, built by ISRO, will be placed in orbit on June 22 by the French Ariane 5 rocket

India's communication satellite, 4.18-tonne GSAT-24, is undergoing health and performance checks at clean room facilities in French Guiana, the European spaceport, said the Indian space agency. The satellite is scheduled to be launched on board the European Ariane V rocket (VA257 flight) on June 22. The satellite is meant to provide pan-India coverage and cater to the needs of direct-to-home television broadcast service provider Tata Play.

Notably, this launch is what India's state-run Department of Space calls the “first demand-driven communication satellite mission of the New Space India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

NSIL was incorporated in March 2019 and was mandated to undertake operational satellite missions on a “demand-driven” model, wherein it has the responsibility to build, launch, own and operate the satellite and provide services to its committed customer.

As part of the GSAT-24 mission, NSIL is getting the 4-ton class Ku- band satellite built by ISRO and will be launching it using Ariane-5 launcher operated by M/s Arianespace. The entire satellite capacity on board GSAT-24 will be leased to its committed customer M/s Tata Play for meeting their DTH application needs. NSIL has entered into a necessary agreement with M/s Tata Play for utilising the satellite capacity on board GSAT-24 and with M/s Arianespace for seeking the launch services. GSAT-24 satellite will be owned and operated by NSIL on a commercial basis. GSAT-24 satellite mission will be fully funded by NSIL.

ISRO said that GSAT-24 was cleared by its pre-shipment review committee on May 2 this year after completing assembly, integration and environmental test. Following this, the satellite and its associated equipment were flown to Kourou, French Guiana, on May 18 on board C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft. 

GSAT-24, built by ISRO, will be placed in orbit on June 22 by the French Ariane 5 rocket. The launch would be carried out from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, in a launch mission dubbed 'VA257'. Once placed in the desired geostationary orbit, the Indian communication satellite will provide high-quality television, telecommunications and broadcasting services.

Earlier, Arianespace, the launch service provider, shared a picture of the container carrying the satellite being offloaded from a military transport aircraft, and stated that "We’ll let you know once the beast is awake". 

While India launches indigenously-built satellites for national requirements and customer-built satellites on board its own rockets, it also uses the services of the European launcher Ariane to fulfil certain missions from foreign soil. Given that India's maximum payload lift capability to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) is 4 tons, lifting GSAT-24 to orbit on an Indian rocket is not feasible. 

Significantly, GSAT-24 will be the 25th Indian satellite orbited by Arianespace, highlighting the longstanding partnership. India's ties with launch provider Arianespace dates back to 1981, when Ariane 1 rocket launched Indian satellite APPLE (Ariane Passenger PayLoad Experiment). APPLE was an experimental communication satellite built by ISRO. In later years, Indian rockets have also orbited European satellites. 

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