07:12 GMT +317 November 2018
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    The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) communication satellite GSAT-19, carried onboard the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-mark III ), launches at Sriharikota on June 5, 2017

    India Continues to Use Foreign Launchers for Heavy Satellites

    © AFP 2018 / ARUN SANKAR
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    Against speculations that India was planning to completely ditch foreign agencies for satellite launches, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has engaged Arianespace for the launch of two crucial telecommunications satellites, GSAT-31 and GSAT-30.

    Two European heavy-lift Ariane 5 launch vehicles would be used to launch India's GSAT-31 and GSAT-30 from the Guiana Space Center, Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at the end of 2018, starting with GSAT-31, Arianespace announced on Wednesday.

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    "Arianespace is delighted that ISRO has entrusted Ariane 5 with two new GEO satellites to deliver: GSAT-31 and GSAT-30, to be the 23rd and 24th ISRO satellites launched by Arianespace since our first joint success with APPLE in 1981," said Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace.

    Weighing around 2,500 to 2,600 kg at launch, GSAT-31 will be based on an enhanced I-2K platform that will replace INSAT 4CR, which will become obsolete in January next year. As for GSAT-30, it will be based on an I-3K platform, will weigh 3,450 kg at launch and ensure continuity of service for INSAT 4A, positioned at 83° East longitude. It will provide high-quality television, telecommunications and broadcasting services.

    "Both satellites will be designed, assembled and integrated by ISRO. They are planned as replacement satellites for the currently operational satellites providing key national services in multiple frequency bands including C- and Ku Bands," a statement issued by Arianespace reads. 

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    Originally, the ISRO had planned to use its GSLV Mark-3 rocket to launch the two satellites. However, with the ambitious second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2 lined up for early next year, ISRO was compelled to engage a foreign agency for the launch of the heavy communications satellites.

    The ISRO has been keen on roping in the domestic private sector to finance the rocket manufacturing and satellite launch business so that it can itself focus on research. However,, there has been no significant progress on this front.

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    Tags:
    communications, satellite launch, space capabilities, lunar program, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Arianespace, India, Europe
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