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India launches communications satellite GSAT-16

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Bengaluru (Dec. 07, 2014): India’s communications satellite GSAT-16 was on Sunday, put on a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) by the European launcher Ariane 5 VA221, from the Kourou space port in French Guiana. Bad weather had delayed the flight by two days.

GSAT-16's 48 transponders - 12 in the C band, 12 in the extended C and 24 in the Ku band - cover the entire country and the Andaman & Nicobar islands.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) briefly said the 3,181 kg GSAT-16 was put in orbit.

It was delivered on an Ariane 5 rocket along with US broadcast satellite DIRECTV-14, launch company Arianespace said.

GSAT-16 will be used by television, telephone, Internet, public and private operators. It replaces the INSAT-3E — which expired in April this year — at 55 degrees East longitude.

The cost of the satellite, built by ISRO in Bengaluru, and Arianespace's launch fee are put at around Rs. 880 crore.

ISRO last launched a communication satellite in January this year.

The satellite now goes around Earth in a temporary elliptical one about 36,000 km at one end and it must be adjusted gradually into a circular one.

The first post-launch exercise to increase the satellite's orbit will be taken up a day later at around 4 a.m. at the Master Control Facility, Hassan, ISRO chief Radhakrishnan had told The Hindu before the launch.

The MCF monitors and handles all national communication satellites throughout their life and is about 200 km from Bengaluru.

Lasting 103 minutes, this will be one of the longest orbit adjustments that ISRO engineers have performed.

"Almost 66 per cent of orbit-raising will be covered in the first manoeuvre," Dr. Radhakrishnan had said.

Two more such orbit adjustments are planned for December 9 and 10.

"By noon ( on December 10) the third orbit-raising will be over and we have to deploy the solar panel and antenna. That is a crucial day," Dr. Radhakrishnan said.

Greeting the scientists for their work PM Modi commented, "Kudos to our scientists for the successful launch of GSAT-16. The communication satellite will become a major asset for our space programme."