ISRO recalls mega GSAT-11 from Kourou for retests

The 5,700-kg satellite was slated for launch on May 26, according to its launch agency, Arianespace

April 24, 2018 10:22 pm | Updated April 25, 2018 02:51 pm IST -

BANGALORE - 20.10.2009 : 'Antariksh Bhavan', Department of Space and ISRO HQ, in Bangalore.        Photo K Murali kumar. NICAID:111757644

BANGALORE - 20.10.2009 : 'Antariksh Bhavan', Department of Space and ISRO HQ, in Bangalore. Photo K Murali kumar. NICAID:111757644

Just over a fortnight after flying GSAT-11 out to Kourou in French Guiana, in South America, for launch, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has recalled the heaviest communication satellite it has built.

The reason is said to be for conducting additional technical checks in Bengaluru, where it was built.

The 5,700-kg high-throughput or Internet broadband satellite reached Kourou on March 30 and was slated for launch on May 26 (IST), according to its launch agency, Arianespace.

ISRO’s spokesman and officials were not reachable for comment.

The European space transporter said on Tuesday that it has postponed the Ariane 5 launch numbered VA 243 that was initially planned for May 26, 2018 in the early hours of wee IST  “[due to additional technical checks with ISRO’s GSAT-11 satellite, to be conducted from the ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) in Bengaluru.”

GSAT-11 is aimed at providing multiple spot beam coverage in Ka and Ku bands over the Indian region and nearby islands. Its 12 gbps service is expected to be far more superior to older Indian communication satellites.

Technical checks

The satellite and its foreign launch, estimated at ₹1,117 crore, was formally approved by the Union Cabinet in March 2016.

Space counsellor in the French Embassy Mathieu Weiss, stationed in Bengaluru, and MD of the India liaison office of French space agency CNES (which is associated with the Ariane rocket design), said, “These things happen in the space sector. We fully understand that the customer has to make thorough technical checks. The spacecraft being an exceptional satellite, one has to be super cautious in launching it. We will do everything to accommodate ISRO in a forthcoming launch.”

Arianespace had matched and paired GSAT-11 to be flown along with Azerspace-2/Intelsat-38. While GSAT-11 will have to be tested, cleared in the city and flown back to Kourou at least a month before it is launched, its new launch date is not known yet.

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