ISRO on Thursday saw its GSAT-17 communication satellite being flown into space by an Ariane 5 launch vehicle from the Kourou launch facility in French Guiana. The launch happened at 2.45 am India time. This was the third launch of a communication satellite by ISRO in the last two months. On May 5, GSAT-9, popularly known as the South Asia satellite, had flown on ISRO’s own GSLV rocket. Exactly a month later, on June 5, GSAT-19 was launched into space by GSLV-MkIII rocket D1.
In between, on June 23, ISRO had also launched a Cartosat-2 series satellite on a PSLV-C38 rocket. The 3477-kg GSAT-17 will strengthen ISRO’s fleet of 17 operational telecom satellites that are already in space. It will ensure continuity of fixed satellite services in the normal C and upper extended C bands, and also provide mobile satellite services in S-band. The satellite also carries equipment for meteorological data relay and satellite-based search and rescue services.
GSAT-17 is the kind of heavy satellite that ISRO till now has been dependent on foreign partners like Arianespace to launch. Before the successful launch of GSLV-MkIII-D1 earlier this month, ISRO did not have the capability to launch satellites heavier than 2500 kg into space. But now that it has that capability, more and more of these heavier satellites, including those of other countries, are likely to be launched on GSLV rockets.
The GSAT-9 launched last month weighed 2230 kg while the GSAT-19 had a mass of 3136 kg.