GSAT-7 is exclusively meant for the armed forces

In about a month, yet another but far more important Indian satellite for military communication network will be launched from the South American spaceport at Kourou.

GSAT-7 or INSAT-4F is slated for launch on August 30 and is exclusively meant for the armed forces, primarily Indian Navy. From its slot over 74 degrees East longitude, it is said to boost the naval arm’s strategic communication strengths across warships in Indian waters and their commands — but that is about all we may know for now about the first Indian military-only communication spacecraft.

“With GSAT-7 you will see a sea change in communication over the region,” an official recently told The Hindu, playing on the word.

The spacecraft was earlier meant to be launched on the indigenous GSLV but that programme is not fully ready: the first resumed GSLV using the Indian cryogenic stage is slated to fly on August 19 after nearly three years.

Blocking capacity

Traditionally, the INSAT communication satellites met the needs of the defence forces by blocking a small part of their transponder capacity for secure communications. In recent years, the armed forces have been demanding special satellites and a larger share of space for themselves as part of national defence.

ISRO on its own PSLVs has put in orbit three earth observation satellites. Its remote sensing satellites RISAT-1 of 2012, TecSAR of 2009 and TES of 2001 have carried extremely sharp view cameras to spot people and objects from heights of around 700 km.

The agency has never admitted the military functions, merely describing these satellites as multi-purpose.

The 2,550-kg GSAT-7 is undergoing preliminary checks at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou. It carries multiple bands in ultra high frequency, S band, C band and the higher Ku band, says ISRO’s website.

GSAT-7 will be flown on Arianespace’s Ariane 5 launcher VA215, according to the European company that has rolled out its next campaign after Friday’s launch.Arianespace said it has got the 10-tonne lifter ready to take in GSAT-7 and its co-passenger, the 6-tonne broadcast satellite Eutelsat 25B/Es’hail 1 for Qatar Satellite Company.

As for ISRO, the GSAT-7 launch will briefly bring the curtains down on two unprecedented and hectic months of having launched four diverse satellites. Come October, it will have to hoist its milestone Mars Orbiter Mission all the way across 400 million km over nine months.