India’s latest communication satellite GSAT-16 has been placed in orbit by Ariane 5 rocket in the early hours today from the spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana. The European launcher blasted off at 2.10 AM and hurled the GSAT-16 into space in a flawless flight. GSAT-16 was launched into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).
Ariane 5 also launched Indian satellite’s co-passenger DIRECTV-14 aimed at providing direct-to-home television broadcasts across the US. GSAT-16 carries a total of 48 communication transponders, the largest by a communication satellite developed by the ISRO so far. Soon after the launch, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said that the satellite is in good health. ISRO’s Master Control Facility at Hassan in Karnataka has taken over the command and control of GSAT-16.
ISRO said, first orbit raising operation is scheduled tomorrow at around 3.50 AM. The satellite launch was originally scheduled for Friday but was put off twice due to bad weather at the launch base in Kourou. GSAT-16, with a designated on orbit operational life of 12 years, will boost public and private TV and radio services, large-scale Internet and telephone operations. It will replace INSAT-3E, decommissioned prematurely in April. The capacity crunch has forced ISRO to lease 95 transponders on foreign satellites mainly for private TV broadcasters’ use.
India’s rockets PSLV and the present GSLV do not have the capability to launch satellites of more than two tonne class, prompting ISRO to opt for an outside launch. ISRO is developing the next big launcher, GSLV-MkIII, which can put satellites of up to 4 tonnes in orbit.