Setback to India’s space programme as ISRO loses contact with GSAT-6A satellite

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In a huge setback to India’s space programme,  the government-run Indian Space Research Organisation scientists lost contact with the country’s communication satellite GSAT-6A, which was launched on board the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle on 29 March.

GSAT-6A
Photo: ISRO website

The ISRO said in its statement, “After the successful long-duration firings, the communication from the satellite was lost when it (satellite) was on course for the final firing (to place the satellite in its final geostationary orbit), scheduled for April 1 (Sunday).”

GSAT-6A is a communication satellite built by ISRO to provide mobile communication services through multi beam coverage.  For this, it is equipped with S and C band transponders.

Soon after its launch, the ISRO had said that, in the coming days, the orbit of GSAT-6A will be raised from its present GTO to the final circular Geostationary Orbit (GSO) by firing the satellite’s Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) in stages. The Satellite was expected to be commissioned into service after the completion of orbit raising operations and its positioning in the designated slot in GSO following in-orbit testing of its payloads.

The statement by ISRO said that efforts were underway to establish the link with the satellite.

With a life span of 10 years, the satellite weighing over 2,000 kg was meant to provide platform for developing technologies that could be useful in satellite based mobile communication applications.

The ISRO had lost navigation satellite IRNSS-1H in a freak manner in August last year. The ISRO then had said that the heat shield did not separate on the final leg of the launch sequence and, as a result, IRNSS-1H got stuck in the fourth stage of the rocket.However, one of its biggest losses in communication fleet was the INSAT-2D, which died in its orbit in October 1997, just four months into work, reported The Hindu.

The space agency has not updated its website or social media pages after the launch of GSAT-6A. The ISRO’s unusual silence had raised considerable suspicion with many raising doubts on the health of the newly launched satellite.

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