India is finally invoking its prowess in space technology for regional cooperation. It will gift a ₹235-crore space asset to neighbouring SAARC countries after Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised it at a SAARC summit in November 2014 in Nepal.
The South Asia Satellite is a gift for the whole region and it will be put into orbit on May 5 using Indian Space Research Organisation’s 50-metre tall and 412-ton weighing Geo-Synchronous Launch Vehicle from Sriharikota which prepares for its 11th launch mission.
So what is the South Asia Satellite? Here is all you need to know:
The satellite weighs a massive 2,230-kg and it took three years to fabricate the satellite. It costs ₹235 crore but after counter overheads, operational costs, insurance etc, the total cost comes to ₹450 crore ($70 million).
The SAS is a communication satellite and neighbouring countries can exploit it for various telecommunication and broadcast purposes. It can be used for telemedicine, tele-education, disaster management help and support, direct to home etc. The satellite will also help in natural resource mapping.
To boost the communication capabilities of India’s neighbours, the satellite is equipped with 12 Ku-band transponders. Each country using the satellite will be provided access to at least one transponder. The countries would use that to uplink-downlink their own programming or even do common programming as well.
The SAS will benefit all SAARC countries excluding Pakistan which opted out. The countries that are already on board are Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan is in the process of signing the agreement.
The satellite’s coverage area will extend to the entire South Asia. Though partner countries will have the task of developing their own infrastructure on the ground, India has expressed willingness to help.
The mission life of the satellite is estimated to be around 12 years.