India has plans to loft two new satellites over the next two years to boost its communications capability and augment current services.

A proposal for the development and launch of GSAT-15 and-16 was approved at a June 28 meeting of the federal cabinet, says India’s finance minister, P. Chidambaram.

GSAT-15 is expected to be built within the next 18 months, and GSAT-16 in the next 24 months.

Developing GSAT-15 is part of the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) attempt to create an “in-orbit spare capacity” to meet any contingency and protect the services of existing users. The GSAT-15 satellite will be similar to GSAT-8 but with enhanced capabilities. It will cover the entire Indian mainland.

“The GSAT-15 will provide required redundant capacity, will augment capacity in the Ku band, and shall provide in-orbit redundant requirement of safety of life operations benefitting civil aviation services in the country,” Chidambaram says.

The GSAT-16 satellite, which is expected to replace Insat-3E, will make contingency arrangements to support services like VSAT, television, strategic and emergency communications, he says. It will be an enhanced version of GSAT-10. The Indian government has approved 8.6 billion rupees ($1.4 billion) each for development and launch services for the satellites.

Presently, the ISRO has nine operational Insat and GSAT satellites, which feature nearly 195 transponders.

Last year, the ISRO launched its 3.4-ton GSAT-10 communication satellite aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from the European Spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana. Weighing 3,400 kg (7,500 lb.) at liftoff, GSAT-10 was the heaviest spacecraft ISRO has built.

India plans four other satellite launches during next two months, including GSAT-14 in July and military satellite,GSAT-7,in August,. GSAT-14 will be lofted aboard India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle and features six extended C-band and six Ku-band transponders.