Indian Space Research Organisation’s latest communication satellite, GSAT-31 was successfully launched by Arianespace aboard its launch vehicle Ariane 5 from the spaceport in French Guiana on February 5, 2019.
The launch vehicle Ariane 5 VA-247 lifted off from Kourou Launch Base in Guiana Space Center (CSG) at 2:31 am (IST) carrying two telecommunications satellites. This is Arianespace’s first launch of the year and the 103rd Ariane 5 mission.
Ariane 5 carried two communication satellites:
1. Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1/Hellas Sat 4 and Hellas Sat
2. ISRO’s GSAT-31
GSAT-31 is a telecommunications satellite designed and manufactured by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is India's 40th communication satellite and derives its heritage from ISROs earlier INSAT/GSAT satellite series.
After separation from Ariane-5 upper stage, the two solar arrays of GSAT-31 were automatically deployed in quick succession and ISRO's Master Control Facility at Hassan in Karnataka took over the command and control of GSAT-31 and found its health parameters normal.
In the coming days, ISRO scientists will undertake phase-wise orbit-raising manoeuvres to place the satellite in Geostationary Orbit (36,000 km above the equator) using its onboard propulsion system.
During the final stages of its orbit raising operations, the antenna reflector of GSAT-31 will be deployed. Following this, the satellite will be put in its final orbital configuration. The satellite will be operational after the successful completion of all in-orbit tests.
• With a lift-off mass of 2536 kg, the telecommunications satellite will augment the Ku-band transponder capacity in Geostationary Orbit for at least 15 years.
• It will further provide continuity to operational services on some of the in-orbit satellites. It will also help bridge the digital divide in the Indian subcontinent as part of an ambitious Indian space program, whose objectives are to develop India while pursuing scientific research and planetary exploration.
• It has a unique configuration of providing flexible frequency segments and flexible coverage. Hence, it will provide communication services to Indian mainland and islands.
• It will also provide DTH Television Services, connectivity to VSATs for ATM, Stock-exchange, Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) and e-governance applications. The satellite will also be used for bulk data transfer for a host of emerging telecommunication applications.
Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1/Hellas Sat 4
The Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1/Hellas Sat 4 (also called HS-4/SGS-1) satellite comprises two payloads, with coverage zones encompassing three continents- Europe, the Middle East and South Africa:
1. The Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1 communications payload will provide advanced Ka-band spot beam communications services for Saudi Arabia’s KACST (King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology), as well as secure communications for countries belonging to the Gulf Cooperative Council region.
2. The Hellas Sat 4 communications payload, on the other hand, will offer advanced Ku-band regional beam communications services for Arabsat’s subsidiary Hellas Sat, a Greek-Cypriot satellite operator which provides services to leading Direct-to-Home (DTH) operators by delivering contents to more than three million households.
The HS-4/SGS-1 satellite was designed, assembled and integrated by the US manufacturer Lockheed Martin Space.
Arianespace provides launch services for all types of satellites into all orbits. It has orbited more than 590 satellites since 1980, using its three launchers, Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, from launch sites in French Guiana (South America) and Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
It is headquartered in Evry, near Paris and has a technical facility at the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.
It is a subsidiary of ArianeGroup, which holds 74 per cent of its share capital, with the balance held by 15 other shareholders from the European launcher industry.