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SAARC satellite set for lift-off

SAARC satellite set for lift-off

The South Asia satellite build by India for countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation(SAARC) will be launched on May 5.

The announcement was made by the Prime minister in his Mann Ki Baat radio address.

The project was first announced at the 2014 SAARC summit in Nepal and all SAARC countries except Pakistan has agreed to be part of the project. The entire cost of the satellite will be borne by the Government of India.

Key features of the SAARC satellite:

  • The 2,230-kg satellite(GSAT-09) is built by the Indian space research organization(ISRO)
  • It is cuboid in shape
  • It has 12 Ku band transponders and each nation will get access to at least one transponder. Though each nation should develop its own ground infrastructure
  • The mission life of the satellite is over 12 years
  • It will be launched from the Satish Dhawan space centre at Sriharikota on the GSLV Mk-II
  • The satellite provides for a full range of applications and services in telecommunication and broadcasting
  • These include television, Direct to home(DTH), Very small Aperture Terminals(VSATs), Tele-education, Telemedicine and disaster management support
  • The satellite also provides for secured hotlines among the participating nations

Significance of the SAARC satellite:

  • The facilities offered by the satellite will go a long way in addressing the economic and developmental priorities of the entire South Asian region
  • The satellite will prove to be a boon for natural resource mapping, telemedicine, education, deeper IT connectivity and fostering people to people contact
  • The satellite has strategic significance since it is part of India’s Neighborhood first policy

Concerns raised by other nations in South Asia:

  • Pakistan had been reluctant since the inception of the idea as it feared India might eaves drop on its strategic communication
  • Afghanistan wanted more transponders than planned
  • Bangladesh was worried about a clash in frequency with its impeding Bangabandhu 1 satellite
  • India assured Srilanka that it will not prevent launching of communication satellites in future
  • Though Nepal is part of the project it also has plans to acquire two satellites of its own

What is a transponder:

  • A device that is used to receive and transmit electrical signals in wireless mode
  • Its name is derived from the words transmitter and responder
  • Thus, it forms a communication channel between the receiving and the transmitting antennas

India can also share its knowledge and know-how from its Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System(IRNSS) and the GPS aided GEO augmented Navigation(GAGAN) networks.

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