Kathmandu, November 26, 2014. When leaders of the South Asian region at 18th SAARC summit agreed to develop collective space capacity, India took the lead emphasizing on the idea of a SAARC satellite that will help the region to work for the development and welfare of people.
Now, nearly after 3 years when India is ready to fulfil the promise it made to its neighbors. When on May 5, ISRO shoots GSAT-9 into its designated orbit, India will set an example of regional space collaboration like never before.
However, it is not called “SAARC” satellite now. It was renamed “South Asia Satellite” ever since Pakistan declined to participate in the mission saying it had its own space capability. Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have agreed to be part of this mission and Afghanistan still to ink the deal with some minor technical details still to be fixed in Kabul.
Watch: The making of “South Asia Satellite”
“The SAARC satellite is an extremely interesting development that has taken place with the current government taking the initiative,” according to ISRO Chairman A S Kiran Kumar. “We are trying to provide transponders to each nation. These transponders can be used by them according to their own requirement — be it telecommunication, telemarketing etc. All the countries will be linked together by communication and it can be used to provide hotline services to the state heads. In terms of availability, it is for communication, but could help in disaster monitoring, remote sensing and exchange of information,” Kumar told Geospatial World.
Talking to the countrymen on his radio broadcast “Mann Ki Baat” on April 31, Modi said that India had always believed in collaborative development, especially for its neighboring countries. The South-Asia satellite will help the neighboring countries meet their development needs, and “help the region to grow together”. “This is our invaluable gift to south Asia and an example of India’s commitment towards south Asia,” he spelt out.
What is South Asia satellite?
The satellite will be carried into its designated orbit by GSLV MK- II on May 5. This 2230-kg GSAT-9, which has a 12-year lifespan, has been built in three years at a cost of INR 2,350 million ($ ). It has 12 Ku-band transponders, which neighboring countries can utilize to increase communications. Each country will get access to at least one transponder through which they could beam their own programing and there could be common south Asian programing as well. Each country has to develop its own ground infrastructure, although India is willing to extend assistance and know-how.
The satellite will “enable a full range of applications and services to our neighbours in the areas of telecommunication and broadcasting applications viz. television, direct-to-home (DTH), very small aperture terminals (VSATs), tele-education, telemedicine and disaster management support,” a statement from the government said. It also has the capability to provide secure hot lines among the participating nations in addition since the region is highly prone to earthquakes, cyclones, floods, tsunamis, it may help in providing critical communication links in times of disasters.