South Asian diplomacy lifts off on 2230-kg ISRO satellite GSAT-9

Communications satellite to be used by all neighbours except Pakistan.

Written by Amitabh Sinha | New Delhi | Updated: May 6, 2017 8:28 am
isro, isro gsat-9, gsat-9 launch, isro, isro gsat-9 launch, saarc, south asia satellite, isro launch today, gsat-9 launch time The satellite is less about space technology and more about geopolitics.

Fulfilling a commitment Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made at the Kathmandu SAARC summit in 2014, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Friday launched a communications satellite that will serve the needs of all countries in South Asia, except Pakistan which opted out of the project.

Modi and leaders of the other participating countries who joined via video conference — Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen, Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena — watched as the geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle GSLV-F09, carrying the 2230-kg GSAT-9 South Asia satellite, lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, at 4.57 pm.

“Two years ago, India made a promise. A promise to extend the advanced space technology for the cause of growth and prosperity of our brothers and sisters in South Asia. The successful launch of the South Asia satellite marks the fulfilment of that. With this launch, we have started a journey to build the most advanced frontier of our partnership,” Modi said.

“As governments, our most important task is to secure growth, development and peace for our people and communities. And I am convinced that when we join hands and mutually share the fruits of knowledge, technology and growth, we can speed up our development and prosperity,” he said.

isro, isro gsat-9, gsat-9 launch, isro, isro gsat-9 launch, saarc, south asia satellite, isro launch today, gsat-9 launch time, indian express What makes the GSAT-9 stand out from the rest is the fact that it is actually an exercise in neighbourhood diplomacy, the kind of which has not been attempted earlier.

Each of the other six leaders also spoke, thanking India for the satellite and stressing on the need to cooperate more closely on development issues. At least two of them echoed Modi in saying that the South Asia satellite was an example of sabka saath sabka vikas, one of the governance themes of the Modi government.

The satellite carries Ku-band transponders which India’s neighbours can make use of — free of charge — for different needs. A communication satellite can be used for a variety of purposes like broadcast services, tele-medicine and tele-education, banking networks, and direct-to-home television.

However, the launch of GSAT-9, fondly named South Asia satellite, is less about space technology and more about geopolitics. The GSAT-9 is a regulation communication satellite, not very different from the several that ISRO has launched over the years. There were the INSAT series of satellites earlier, the last of which flew in 2007, and now there is a whole constellation of GSAT-series of satellites, providing a vast array of services over the country.

What makes the GSAT-9 stand out from the rest is the fact that it is actually an exercise in neighbourhood diplomacy, the kind of which has not been attempted earlier.

The satellite is meant to cater to the requirements of countries in India’s immediate neighbourhood, most of whom have almost negligible presence in space. In keeping with its own status of being one of the top space powers, India is providing these countries with access to transponders on the satellite free of charge. Usually, this kind of transponder space is made available commercially and ISRO has leased out transponder space to several private and foreign organisations earlier.

The satellite was proposed as an effort to share the fruits of space technology with all countries in the region. This kind of international collaboration in space exploration and technology is best exemplified by the European Space Agency which has more than 20 countries as members.

But even before baby steps in that direction could be taken, Pakistan, which had earlier agreed to be part of the collaborative effort to build and design the satellite, pulled out, forcing a change in the name from SAARC Satellite to South Asia Satellite.

In the region, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are the only two countries to have launched communication satellites. Both took the help of China. Afghanistan has leased a part of French telecommunication satellite, Eutelsat 48D, for its use, while Bangladesh is planning to launch its own satellite, Bangabandhu-1, later this year.

The Indian offer to make a satellite that all the countries in the region can use freely is an act of generosity. Hard strategic calculations have weighed in, and these have barely been disguised. ISRO has hardly been discreet in acknowledging that it is also an attempt to prevent China from offering similar services in the region. In fact, in an interview to The Indian Express, shortly after the SAARC Satellite was announced, ISRO chairman A S Kirankumar conceded as much, though he did not name China.

“…in this region, you also have a large number of other players trying to come in and get into (space) operations,” he had said, while giving reasons for India’s offer for making a SAARC satellite.

It is no coincidence that China has helped launch communication satellites for both Sri Lanka and Pakistan with which it has a growing partnership in space technology. For India, it was also a little disappointing to know that some of the other countries in the region, like Bangladesh, were taking the help of western countries in running their space programme when ISRO could offer comparable services at a fraction of the cost.

The South Asia Satellite is, therefore, also an attempt by ISRO to look for newer markets for its services in the immediate neighbourhood. ISRO has so far launched satellites from 23 countries, but none from the region.

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  1. S
    Sankaran Krishnan
    May 6, 2017 at 4:25 pm
    Another chance to show unity in the South Asia Region and India's gesture is very well accepted by the Countries and hope now on wards it will be further strengthened and can use the ISRO services for their further requirement.
    Reply
    1. M
      Michelle:Vedic:human
      May 6, 2017 at 11:23 am
      One has to be in hindrance to truth a mullah stupid to , make a goat watch their pigs meet 72 HOURIES in space, what is behind their MUZZIE crooked gesture of helping hand, hindrance to truth Islam a pollution, in a MUZZIE crooked mulah immoral way, Thanks but no, thanks, stay off of the porch , MUZZIE stinky hogs of Islam crookedness by faith, playing angels of mercy, to trap for eventual death of their innocent pray,--rapist by birth,---terrorists by faith,---hindrance to truth,----Jai hind.
      Reply
      1. M
        MyTake
        May 6, 2017 at 10:48 am
        stanis are not South Asian! After becoming Arabised now they are practicing chopstick in their "iron" brother's school!
        Reply
        1. T
          T DUTTA
          May 6, 2017 at 9:51 am
          some layman may confuse GSAT WITH GST
          Reply
          1. K
            Kiran Prakash Gupta
            May 6, 2017 at 9:16 am
            Comments from islamic parties have not come yet.At least congratulate the ISRO
            Reply
            1. P
              Prince
              May 6, 2017 at 9:15 am
              Dar, you know something, your own muslim brother is running very big brothel house in Delhi and he has record of spoiled hundred s of your own muslim sisters, and you are fit for these kind of JOBS, so please don't bark louder
              Reply
              1. M
                Mohammad Dar
                May 6, 2017 at 11:33 am
                Muslim? not a Muslim but must be a hindu filthy dog of hinduism racism by faith of Persian origin, hogs of hinduism racism, pretending to be Muslim, known as brothers of hindu immoral , known as Shi it. They areyour hindu filthy kind, not of Muslims, hindu crook hog of hinduism racism, in human form.
                Reply
              2. M
                Mohammad Dar
                May 6, 2017 at 7:48 am
                One has to be in hindrance to truth a hindu stupid to , make a fox watch their hens, what is behind their hindu crooked gesture of helping hand, hindrance to truth hinduism manipulation, in a hindu crooked hindu immoral way, Thanks but no, thanks, stay off of the porch , hindu stinky hogs of hinduism crookedness by faith, playing angels of mercy, to trap for eventual death of their innocent pray.
                Reply
                1. B
                  bap of jihadi md dar
                  May 6, 2017 at 9:11 am
                  beta hindu hindu kar rhe ho yan apne bap ki yad aa rhi h,700ce nya dharam bna ke kya ukhar liya,apne bap k pas aa jao,converted jihadi mulla
                  Reply
                  1. R
                    ramu
                    May 6, 2017 at 9:19 am
                    dont wash your dirty lenin here after drenching in porki come here when u stop collecting chinese dung
                    Reply
                    1. M
                      Michelle:Vedic:human
                      May 6, 2017 at 11:24 am
                      One has to be in hindrance to truth a mullah stupid to , make a goat watch their pigs meet 72 HOURIES in space, what is behind their MUZZIE crooked gesture of helping hand, hindrance to truth Islam a pollution, in a MUZZIE crooked mulah immoral way, Thanks but no, thanks, stay off of the porch , MUZZIE stinky hogs of Islam crookedness by faith, playing angels of mercy, to trap for eventual death of their innocent pray,--rapist by birth,---terrorists by faith,---hindrance to truth,----Jai hind....
                      Reply
                    2. I
                      Indian First
                      May 6, 2017 at 7:26 am
                      Great News and great achievement Congrats all
                      Reply
                      1. M
                        Mohammad Dar
                        May 6, 2017 at 7:49 am
                        On a Russian designed rocket, with borrowed technology.
                        Reply
                        1. U
                          usual suspect
                          May 6, 2017 at 8:08 am
                          You r slave son of cheep wore who are soliciting herself at market of hiramandi{established on the name of Hindu King} so as to feed you.
                          1. B
                            bap of jihadi md dar
                            May 6, 2017 at 9:09 am
                            beta 700 ce me allah dharam aaya,ya to hindu ya chirstian ki aulad ho to apne bap ko itna bol rhe ho,ammi jan se pucho to
                        2. M
                          Michelle:Vedic:human
                          May 6, 2017 at 6:52 am
                          Now PORKISTAN will try and launch 9-GOA-T in space to meet 72 HOURIES,----Jai hind.
                          Reply
                          1. M
                            Mohammad Dar
                            May 6, 2017 at 7:50 am
                            Ya, jai hindu stinky hind of hogs of hinduism racism by faith, in human form.
                            Reply
                            1. B
                              bap of jihadi md dar
                              May 6, 2017 at 9:07 am
                              beta dar allah ne piche se lete samay kya kia jo itna dard ho rha h .apne papa ko btao hum case karenge
                              1. M
                                Michelle:Vedic:human
                                May 6, 2017 at 9:46 am
                                HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA son of a TRIPPLE TALAQ of I AMMI in burqa ed by 3 different MULLAS HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA biological ABBU Unknown must be in space with 72 HOURIES,---HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA,
                            2. S
                              S.Suresh
                              May 6, 2017 at 6:40 am
                              We are proud now. Congratulations all of our scientists and co-workers.
                              Reply
                              1. M
                                Mohammad Dar
                                May 6, 2017 at 7:52 am
                                For using borrowed technology, hindu copy cat hogs of hinduism racism by faith, in human form.
                                Reply
                                1. B
                                  bap of jihadi md dar
                                  May 6, 2017 at 9:06 am
                                  beta dar aaj allah ne kitni bar piche se mara btao sabko
                              2. Y
                                Yogesh.Nehete
                                May 6, 2017 at 3:53 am
                                Thank you Russia for helping India. Russian engines used in GSLV are very reliable.
                                Reply
                                1. A
                                  Aditya
                                  May 6, 2017 at 5:37 am
                                  Sorry little porki. Despite your best attempts your stani Pig stench comes through. these are engines developed by india, I know you pink a is really burning but face the facts
                                  Reply
                                  1. M
                                    Mohammad Dar
                                    May 6, 2017 at 7:53 am
                                    hindu stinky hogs of hinduism fabrication are afraid of.
                                2. S
                                  Sreesheel Sreekumar
                                  May 5, 2017 at 9:51 pm
                                  Every successful launch of GSLV is a happy moment ! Apart from the technological success, here it has achieved diplomatic success as well ! Congratulations ISRO ! Keep developing GSLV so that it can lift heavier and heavier payloads !
                                  Reply
                                  1. B
                                    bitterhoney
                                    May 5, 2017 at 10:59 pm
                                    Only Modi ji deserves praise for the successful launch of the satellite. Modo Modi Modi
                                    Reply
                                    1. D
                                      deepak sankhla
                                      May 6, 2017 at 7:37 am
                                      Keep burning in your own hatred jehadi!
                                      1. D
                                        deepak sankhla
                                        May 6, 2017 at 7:38 am
                                        Keep burning in your own hatred jehadi!
                                    2. D
                                      Deepak Singh khetwal
                                      May 5, 2017 at 9:37 pm
                                      Congratulations all of u or Bharat Mata ki jai
                                      Reply
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