The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is all set to launch its advanced communication and navigation satellite next week. This will put to test its first indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS).

It is slated for launch at 4.27 p.m. on April 15 from the space centre at Sriharikota.

This third stage of the launch vehicle, the CUS, is ISRO's labour of love. Scientists have been working on the technology — sourced from Russia for five earlier missions — for nearly two decades now, ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan told journalists here on Wednesday.

Having mastered this “complex technology,” India will now join an elite group of space-faring nations, including the United States, Europe, Russia, Japan and China.

The GSLV-3D, the third developmental mission of India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSAT-4, was shifted to the launch pad on Wednesday morning.

The cryogenic programme, which scientists have been working on since 1994, cost around Rs.335 crore.

Pointing to the geo-political significance of the “bold decision” that ISRO took in 1994, Dr. Radhakrishnan described it as a “proud moment” for the space agency.

The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, and the Liquid System Propulsion System, Mahendragiri, took the lead in this project, and the CUS that stands ready to launch on Tuesday has been reviewed by a panel of 35 academics and scientists, including former ISRO scientists, from across the country.

The GSAT-4 mission, a 2,200 kg experimental satellite, carries a navigation payload that offers improved navigation possibilities for civil aircraft as well. Titled Gagan, the GPS-aided navigation system has ISRO collaborating with the Airports Authority of India.

Another key experiment aboard the mission is the use of a regenerative transponder payload that operates in the advanced Ka frequency band. Scientists said this is a step forward in the field of communications technology as it will allow for smaller ground terminals at the user end and increase productivity.

Future implications of this experiment include the development of applications in the field of wide-band multimedia services, mobile information systems and e-commerce. This could also be a significant step towards the realisation of high bandwidth internet in the country. The earth observation satellite Cartosat-2B will take flight around May 15.

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