Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chairman Dr K Sivan on Sunday confirmed that the space agency’s communication link with the recently launched Gsat-6A got snapped but said the space agency was trying to re-establish contact with the advanced communication satellite.
Speaking to TOI, the Isro chairman said, “After the successful launch of Gsat-6A from Sriharikota on Thursday, Isro was supposed to perform three orbit-raising manoeuvres to take the satellite from the launch orbit to the designated orbit (geo stationary orbit that is at the altitude of 36,000 km). The first manoeuvre was performed successfully on Thursday. The second orbit-raising exercise was performed on Saturday. As the Isro ground station was gearing up for the third manoeuvre, the communication link with the satellite snapped.”
Orbit-raising means manoeuvring a satellite in space in stages in order to place it in its final orbit with the help of small thrusters.
Dr Sivan said, “Our team is trying to re-establish the communication link with the satellite. Though the delinking of signal from a satellite is a common phenomenon, this time the signal delinking is happening for a longer duration. Even if the satellite’s primary power has failed, we can use the back-up power like solar power if we are able to re-establish the contact with it.”
TOI was the first to report about Isro going silent on Gsat-6A updates and the top Isro team holding an emergency meeting on the mission on Saturday.Hopeful of retrieving the satellite, the Isro chief said, “Gsat-6A is not out of control and we still hope we can reestablish contact with the satellite.” On the location of the satellite, he said, “We know the approximate location of the satellite in space by using other satellites and other resources.”
With a life span of 10 years, the 2,066-tonne satellite, costing Rs 270 crore, was meant to provide mobile communication through multi-beam coverage. The satellite was also significant for the military for communication purposes in remote and border areas. This is because Gsat-6A’s sixmetre-wide antenna is three times broader than those generally used in communication satellites. The big antenna was meant to enable the satellite to provide mobile communication across the country through handheld ground terminals. In other satellites, smaller antenna require larger ground stations. On the upcoming launches of navigation satellite IRNSS-1H and Chandrayaan mission, the Isro chief said, “Currently, there is no plan to defer these launches. They will go as per the schedule.” This is the first mission for Dr Sivan, who assumed charge of the space agency in January.
In August last year, India’s mission to launch its backup navigation satellite IRNSS-1H on board PSLV-C39 ended in a failure after the satellite got stuck in the heat shield. The navsat stuck in the heat shield, now declared space debris, is still roaming in the near-earth orbit and will ultimately fall on the earth.