International desk – India on Friday successfully put into orbit a satellite designed to improve communication services across South Asian nations, excepting Pakistan.
Seven South Asian leaders joined through video conferencing as the communication spacecraft lift off from Sriharikota of Andhra Pradesh in the evening.
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed it a historic moment. “It opens up new horizon of engagement,” he said.
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina put emphasis on fruitful engagement in various fields of cooperation between South Asian countries for the betterment of the people of the region.
“I strongly believe that the betterment of the people of South Asian region depends on fruitful engagement in various fields of cooperation between the countries of this region,” she told the video conferencing.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal also joined the videoconferencing from their respective countries.
“We want to cooperate with all countries for creating an area of peace in South Asia where we can live as good neighbours and pursue constructive policies for the benefit of our peoples, as envisioned by our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,” Hasina added.
“I’m confident that launching of this satellite will change the face of South Asia,” she said.
Hasina said with the launching of South Asia Satellite, Bangladesh and India have expanded connectivity from land, water and air to space.
“I’m sure that cooperation in space will definitely lead us to the ambitious technological enhancement for the benefit of the region,” she said.
Hasina congratulated Modi and the government of India for successful launching of South Asia Satellite.
“I’m glad that just a few days ago we have signed Orbital Frequency Agreement for cooperation in South Asia Satellite,” she said.
The South Asia Satellite or GSAT-9 was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. The lift-off mass of about 2,230kg includes the satellite and its launch vehicle.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) developed the satellite.
Seven out of the eight SAARC countries are a part of the project, as Pakistan decided to opt out stating “it has its own space programme.”
The satellite will provide telecommunications link between India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
Each country can beam its own TV programs while there will be the possibility for a common South Asia programming.
The mainframe of the satellite is cuboid in shape, built around a central cylinder. The mission life is 12 years and it cost 235 crore Indian Rupees.
The GSAT-9 is a Geostationary Communication Satellite and data from it will be shared with the other five countries. It will help to meet the growing telecommunications and broadcasting needs of the region.
All participating nations will have access to at least one transponder using which they can telecast their own programming. The countries will develop their own ground-level infrastructure.
The satellite took almost three years to build, would boost services such as telecommunication, direct-to-home, telemedicine, tele-education and other supporting systems in these countries.
The satellite is also expected to help support their water conservation initiatives, by providing data, forecasting weather and sending alerts on natural disasters.
With GSAT-09, South Asian countries can also save the investment they would have had to make on developing a communication satellite and launching it.
However, they have to make their own ground station to crunch data from the 12 Ku-band transponders in the satellite.
In a tweet Modi said: “This will also greatly benefit South Asia & our region’s progress.”
A rocket carrying the satellite took off from the Sriharikota spaceport on India’s south-eastern coast at 4:57 pm.
The two-ton payload was placed into its designated orbit some 20 minutes later.
The satellite was funded entirely by India, which has regarded it as is a “gift” for member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.