NATIONAL

INSAT-3C to become operational by next week

CHENNAI Feb. 15. The Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO), INSAT- 3C satellite, will become operational ``by February 22 or 23'', adding a quantum leap in satellite communication capabilities in the country.

``The tests are satisfactory so far and hopefully for the remaining time it will go of satisfactorily. So we should declare it operational by then, as had been planned,'' the ISRO chairman, K. Kasturirangan, said today.

The tests on the satellite, carried out after the orbit raising manoeuvres after it was launched on January 24, included checking antenna deployment, solar array and testing the payloads. The satellite will add a great deal to augment the telecommunication services in the country, particularly VSAT operations. INSAT-3C, the second of the INSAT-3 series of satellites of ISRO has 24 normal C-band transponders, six extended C-band transponders, two S-band broadcast satellite transponders and a mobile satellite service transponder.

Though as many as 111 transponders became available in the INSAT system soon after this launch, apart from those leased from Thaicom satellite, the ISRO has already vacated 10 transponders aboard the ageing INSAT-2B launched in 1993. It will soon vacate about 20 on board INSAT-2C, launched in 1995, which is also nearing its end. This would mean a reduction in available transponders but the ISRO does not foresee any problem due to this because the launch of the INSAT-3A was ``proceeding on schedule,'' Dr. Kasturirangan said.

On the second validation flight of the Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), Dr. Kasturirangan said this should be ready for launch in the ``third to fourth quarter'' of this year.

``The only problem is the monsoon at that time. But we want to be ready by then,'' he said and added that for the second GSLV launch, the Russian cryogenic engines will be used.

The ISRO is not happy on the huge publicity surrounding its recent test firing of the cryogenic engine at Mahendragiri.

``The testing lasted for about 10 seconds. An actual flight lasts for about 1000 seconds. These are short duration tests, which are being carried out from time to time. There is nothing to go to town about it,'' an ISRO official said.

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