India made its biggest space diplomacy push today when the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F09), carrying the GSAT-9 or the “South Asia” satellite, was launched successfully at 4.57 p.m. from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
Leaders of neighbouring countries, barring Pakistan, join Modi via video conference in celebrating the successful launch by ISRO.
The countdown to the launch of the satellite, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed as a priceless gift to South Asia, was smooth. The 28-hour countdown had begun at 12.57 p.m. on Thursday and at 4.57 p.m., the GSLV-F09 blasted off, in clear weather from the second launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh and injected the GSAT-9 into the orbit after a flawless flight.
“Successful launch of South Asian Satellite is a historic moment. It opens up new horizons of engagement. This will also greatly benefit South Asia & our region’s progress,” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Launch of South Asia Satellite is a first of its kind project with several benefits for our region. History was created with today's launch.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 5, 2017
“Through this we will achieve effective communication, better governance, better banking services & better education in remote areas,” Mr. Modi said in an address to the nation post launch.
“The imperative of regional cooperation has changed to reality with the launch of the GSLV,” Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, “We want to live in peace in South Asia, GSLV is a new step in cooperation.”
First announced by the Prime Minister in July 2014 as a gift to India’s neighbours and a positive diplomatic gesture, it was then conceived as a SAARC satellite. After Pakistan declined to participate, it includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, The Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The Government of India bears the satellite cost of ₹235 crore and a roughly equivalent cost of launching it on the GSLV rocket to a distance about 36,000 km in space.
The space agency said that the GSAT-9 was configured around the ISRO’s standard I-2K bus, with a lift-off mass of 2,230 kg, and the satellite’s main structure was cuboid in shape built around a central cylinder with a mission life of more than 12 years.
According to an official, ISRO on experimental basis decided to have electric power for the satellite. He said the next satellite with electric power will be the GSAT-20 slated for launch in 2018. ISRO is also gearing up to launch it ..