India will launch a dozen foreign satellites in the next couple of years, according to the chief of the country’s space agency.
“We have [firm orders] today for about 12 satellites, which are scheduled to be launched in the coming two years,” Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman K. Radhakrishnan says. The satellites are mainly Canadian, German and Indonesian, including an 800-kg (1,760-lb.) spacecraft environment-monitoring satellite from DLF Germany.
ISRO has so far lofted 26 foreign satellites via its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The chairman also says ISRO will place another advanced communication satellite – GSAT-12 – into geosynchronous orbit in the second week of July.
The 1,400-kg GSAT-12 will be launched from the spaceport at Sriharikota, about 80 km (50 mi.) northeast of the southern city of Chennai, onboard PSLV-C17 at a cost of about 1 billion rupees ($22 million). Built at the space agency’s satellite center in Bengaluru, the two-stage rocket will feature strap-on boosters for additional performance.
The 1.5 billion-rupee GSAT-12 will have 12 extended C-band transponders for communications and weather forecast services.
“The solid and liquid stages are going through final checks before strapping them onto the rocket,” Radhakrishnan says. “The entire exercise, including assembling, integration and tests will be completed by June 26 for launching the mission in the second week of July.”
GSAT-12 will be shipped to Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on June 2.
“As we are using a polar launch vehicle to place the satellite in the geosynchronous orbit, the spacecraft will be first placed in the lower elliptical orbit between 284 km perigee and 21,000 km apogee and subsequently transferred into the intended orbit in stages between 21,000 km perigee and 36,000 km apogee,” Radhakrishnan says.
On May 25, ISRO’s GSAT-8 was placed into geosynchronous orbit following launch from Kourou, French Guiana, onboard a European Ariane 5 rocket. ISRO has begun the process of switching on GSAT-8’s payloads and expects the satellite to be available to users by the end of this month, Radhakrishnan says.