The clock is ticking fast for the much-awaited launch of the South Asia Communication Satellite GSAT-9 on May 5, 2017. The Geostationary Communication Satellite will be launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota at 4.57 pm on Friday.
"All activities are going on smoothly," ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar said and added that satellite will boost connectivity among South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations. The SAARC countries which will benefit include India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives.
Out of the eight SAARC countries, only Pakistan has opted out of the mission, stating that it has its own space programme. Pakistan's decision to opt out of programme has raised a question. Is Pakistan's decision driven by its hostile relationship with India?
Whatever be the reasons, let's know about the satellite launch.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dream mission, the GSLV-F09 carrying GSAT-9, will be launched from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. Soon after assuming power in May 2014, Modi had asked ISRO scientists to develop a SAARC satellite that can be dedicated to neighbouring countries as a "gift from India."
ISRO issued a statement, which said, "The 28-hour countdown operations of GSLV-F09/GSAT-9 mission started at 12:57 hours today."
The Satellite is meant for providing communication, disaster support and connectivity among the South Asia region countries. The total cost of this project is Rs 235 crore.
PM Narendra Modi during his last radio show had said, "On May 5, India will launch the South Asia Satellite. The benefits of this satellite will go a long way in meeting the developmental needs of the countries participating in this project."
Sharing its benefits, Modi said, "Natural resources mapping, tele-medicine, the field of education, deeper IT connectivity or fostering people to people contact - this satellite will prove to be a boon in the progress of the entire region. It is an important step by India to enhance co-operation with the entire South Asia… it is an invaluable gift. This is an appropriate example of our commitment towards South Asia."
DiscIosing future plans, Kiran Kumar said ISRO will launch GSLV MK III variant, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Chandrayaan-II.
This satellite project is India's major initiative to advance space cooperation among the South Asian countries. But the absence of Pakistan is not good news, given the "regional" essence of the project. There can be two obvious reasons for Pakistan to walk out.
First, Pakistan is building a remote sensing satellite called Space and Upper Atmospheric Research Commission, which will be launched with the assistance of Chinese space vehicle in 2018. Secondly, Islamabad doesn't want to play a secondary role in a project that is initiated and led by India, given the hostile relations the two countries have had have over the decades.