Just last week, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched the GSAT-11, its heaviest satellite yet. Now, the country’s space agency is gearing up for another major launch for December 2018. Later this month, ISRO will be launching the GSAT-7A, a dedicated communication satellite for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
“ISRO will launch a communication satellite GSAT-7A for the IAF in the third week of this month. In January, there will be a PSLV launch and then communication satellite GSAT-31 will be launched from French Guiana, which will replace INSAT 4CR, whose end of life is expected soon. And then, we have the Chandrayaan-2 mission in January, whose launch window is from January 3 to February 13,” K Sivan, Chairman of ISRO, was quoted as saying by a Times of India report.
Once the satellite is placed into geostationary orbit, it will allow the IAF to link different ground radar stations, airbases, and AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft, noted the Times of India report. Having a cost of about Rs 500-800 crores, GSAT-7A has an expected lifespan of nine years. With Ku-band transponders and two deployable solar arrays, the satellite weighs around 2.2 tons and will be launched by the GSLV-MkII.
It’s worth mentioning that GSAT-7A will be the second satellite dedicated to the military launched by ISRO. Back in 2013, the agency had launched GSAT-7 (also called ‘Rukmini’) for the Indian Navy.
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GSAT-7A is expected to boost drone operations, since the Navy will be able to control UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) via satellite, instead of relying on ground-based control stations.