In News:

  • India’s heaviest satellite GSAT-11, that would boost broadband services in the country, was successfully launched by an Arianespace rocket from the French Guiana in the early hours of 5 December.


  • Blasting off from the Ariane Launch Complex at Kourou, a French territory located along the north-eastern coast of South America at 02:07 am (IST), the Ariane-5 vehicle injected GSAT-11 into the orbit in a flawless flight lasting about 33 minutes.
  • Weighing about 5,854 kg, the GSAT-11 is the “heaviest” satellite built by ISRO. It is a next generation “high output” communication satellite configured around ISRO’s I-6K Bus, and has a designed lifetime of more than 15 years.
  • Post-separation, ISRO’s Master Control Facility at Hassan, in Karnataka, took over the command and control of GSAT-11 and found its health parameters normal, the space agency said in a statement.
  • Calling the satellite a fore-runner in a series of advanced communications satellites with multi-spot beam antenna coverage over Indian mainland and islands, ISRO said GSAT-11 will play a vital role in providing broadband services across the country and also be a platform to demonstrate new generation applications.
  • GSAT-11 is part of ISRO’s new family of high-throughput communication satellite (HTS) fleet that will drive the country’s Internet broadband from space to untouched areas.
  • The satellite will also have VSAT Terminals which basically will ensure that it can handle large capacity platform to support a huge subscriber base.
  • The GSAT-11 is equivalent to the combined power of almost all communications satellites sent into orbit by India. The satellite is like a constellation of 30 classical orbiting satellites.

Why Arianespace rocket?

  • 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 weighs upto 4 tons. It is developing launchers that can put our spacecraft to orbit from within India.
  • Since 1981 Arianespace has put to space 22 Indian communication satellites (including GSAT-11) and will launch GSAT-31 and GSAT-30 in 2019.

Operational Soon:

  • ISRO has revealed that the satellite will be initially placed in the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit and will be later raised to Geostationary Orbit. It will be using the Liquid Apogee Motor which will be onboard the satellite.
  • The scientists would now undertake phase-wise orbit tests to place the satellite in the Geostationary Orbit which is 36,000 km above the equator using its on-board propulsion systems, after which the satellite is expected to become operational.

Multi-Spot Approach: 

  • GSAT-11 will use a multi-spot approach to maximize its coverage area in the Indian mainland and islands — a far superior communication technology than existing INSATs and GSATs.
  • In a first for a satellite built by ISRO, 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. This makes GSAT-11 three to six times more powerful than any of ISRO’s (and India’s) satellite roster today.
  • It will provide up to 14 Gigabit/s in both voice and video broadband services anywhere in the Indian mainland or islands over its 15-year lifespan, according to ISRO.
  • The satellite has 32 Ku-band transponders and 8 Ka-band hubs on board. The Ku- and Ka-bands are different frequencies of microwaves in the electromagnetic spectrum.

Significance of GSAT-11:

  • 90% of the hardware was from Indian industry giving boost to indigenization.
  • GSAT-11 will bring far greater speeds (16 Gbps of it, no less) and capacity to meet growing demand for mobile and internet in households, businesses, and public organisations.
  • Large parts of rural areas still remain untouched by the scope of commercial telecom today — something GSAT-11 is designed to change. Under Digital India’s BharatNet project GSAT-11 will boost access to voice and video streaming in most of rural India. The Bharat Net Project aims to enhance the public welfare schemes like e-banking, e-health, e-governance among others.
  • With India moving fast towards implementing ‘Smart Villages and Cities’, they can be efficiently linked through a large communication satellite.
  • Enabling in-flight Internet and village web services are the government’s other goals. By enabling rural high-speed connectivity the HTS satellite also promises to bridge the urban-rural digital divide.
  • 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.

Check Your Understanding:

  • Highlight the achievements of ISRO as a pioneer in space technology?
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