The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Wednesday successfully placed its latest communication satellite GSAT-29 into orbit, taking it another step closer to achieving India’s dream of a manned space mission in 2021.
The satellite, weighing 3,423 kg, was injected into a geosynchronous orbit by ISRO’s heavy-lift rocket GSLV-MkIII-D2, 16 minutes after it took flight at 5.08 pm from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. The 27-hour-countdown for the launch began at 2.50pm Tuesday.
The satellite, which carries Ka and Ku band high communication transponders, is aimed at meeting the communication needs of people in remote areas in the northeast and Jammu and Kashmir. According to ISRO, the GSAT-29 satellite is intended to serve as a testbed for several new technologies and has a mission life of about 10 years.
ISRO scientists celebrated the successful launch of the satellite, with Chairman Dr K Sivan calling it a significant milestone. “I am extremely happy to declare that our heaviest launcher in its second mission has lifted the heaviest satellite, GSAT 29 from Indian soil, and after a majestic travel of 16 minutes, it precisely injected it into the intended Geo Transfer Orbit,” Sivan said.
The ISRO also has set a ‘target’ of achieving the country’s ambitious manned mission to space by 2021, with the first unmanned programme of ‘Gaganyaan’ planned for December 2020, Sivan said.
“The mission team is on track and already the work is going on,” Sivan said after the successful launch of communication satellite GSAT 29 onboard GSLV-MkIII-D2 here.
“The first unmanned mission of Gaganyaan team we are planning for December 2020, to have the first human in space mission by December 2021. This is the target we are setting (for ourselves),” he said.
Later talking to reporters, the ISRO Chairman said the space agency was planning to have two unmanned missions before the human mission was launched.
“We are planning to have two unmanned missions. Third one will be manned mission. First, we will follow all the parameters and if it does not work, we will fly the second unmanned mission. Once it gets confirmed, we will go for human mission,” he said.
Read | What is GSAT-29?
The GSLV Mk III is designed to launch satellites in the 4,000 kg category into space. Today’s launch was crucial to India, which is currently dependent on European launchers to put heavy satellites in space. The GSAT Mk III is also the rocket designated for ISRO’s second moon mission Chandrayaan 2 scheduled for next year.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the efforts of the scientists in his Twitter post, saying, “My heartiest congratulations to our scientists on the successful launch of GSLV MK III-D2 carrying GSAT-29 satellite. The double success sets a new record of putting the heaviest satellite in orbit by an Indian launch vehicle.”
With PTI inputs