India launches its heaviest satellite successfully into space

Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO’s GSAT-11 satellite also called the “Big Bird” weighing 5,854 kg, the heaviest Indian-made equipment that the agency put into its orbit was successfully launched into space today from the French spaceport of Kourou in South America.

The satellite, launched at 2.07 (IST), will help provide satellite-based internet to remote places where cable-based internet cannot reach.

This launch was the second attempt after ISRO’s first bid failed in May earlier this year and was placed into space on its 102nd flight, the Ariane 5 rocket. According to ISRO, the satellite is healthy after the launch.

“GSAT-11 is the next generation high throughput communication satellite that will play a vital role in providing broadband services across the country. It will also provide a platform to demonstrate new generation applications,” Dr K Sivan, ISRO chief said.

The “Big Bird” has cost about INR 600 crore. The Ariane-5 heavyweight rocket was hired from Arianespace by ISRO. The satellite is expected to have a lifespan of 15 years.

The satellite internet, which the GSAT-11 will help to provide, will aid in giving internet connectivity in flights in India.

The GSAT-11 is equivalent to the combined power of almost all communications satellites sent into orbit by India.

India has hired the French Ariane-5 rocket as it can heavy payload into orbit. India’s own geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle MK iii or GSLV MK iii can haul satellites that weigh up to 4 tons.

Along with its three siblings, GSAT-19, GSAT-29 and GSAT-20, the satellite will be a “game changer for providing internet access and data communications for India and will aid the digital India program. Dr Sivan adds.

In a first for an ISRO satellite, GSAT-11 will carry a next-generation I-6K bus (communication satellite hub) to provide services in two widely-used wavelengths for telecommunications: the Ku- and Ka-bands. Ku- and Ka-bands are different frequencies of microwaves in the electromagnetic spectrum.

GSAT-11 has 32 Ku-band transponders and 8 Ka-band hubs on board, making GSAT-11 three to six times more powerful than any of ISRO’s (and India’s) satellite roster today.

GSAT-11 is reportedly bringing bandwidths of 14 Gigabit/s in voice and video broadband services anywhere in the Indian mainland or islands over its 15-year lifespan. It will use ‘spot beams’ to cover the expansive area (see image above).

Four terrestrial gateways or ‘hubs’ located in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, and Ranchi, will connect the satellite to users.

Each of these hubs is also connected to each other through an optical fibre network to ensure the connectivity is seamless.

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