India’s diplomacy comes of “space” age

Defence News: India’s new space diplomacy and “neighborhood first” policy has give birth to the Rs 235 crore satellite GSAT-9  and is presented as an ‘invaluable gift’ to India’s neighbors. Now this is seen as a significant move in countering Chinese interests in the region. The project is funded entirely by India.
Indian Defence News, ISRO rocket lifting off for SAARC
PM Modi said calling it a historic day. The satellite, built by the Indian Space Research Organization in three years would improve communication, governance, banking and education in rural areas and make better weather forecasts. Leaders from SAARC states commented quite positively to the launch.

SAARC Leaders cheer:

Tshering Tobgay, the Prime Minister of Bhutan, called the satellite  “an example of true friendship and cooperation. It will bring common progress of our region”. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina congratulated PM Modi for the event, and lauded fruitful engagements for the improvement in lives of people. Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said the satellite “will be helpful to provide communication services in the mountain and hilly regions” and enhance connectivity. President Yameen of Maldives said “It is my sincere hope that we be able to put aside our differences and work together to fulfil our hopes and aspirations,”. Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said “If we can’t cooperate on land, we surely can cooperate in space”,  and he also declined a Pakistani invitation to Islamabad.

India’s gift as a satellite to it’s SAARC peers excluded Pakistan, reasons for which are quite obvious. Pakistan’s exclusion may never be debated by another other than Pakistan herself. There were comments in Pakistan about the “valuable” contribution it could make to the project as Pakistan’s space program is at an “advanced” stage. However, according to them, India did not share the project with them.Seven of the eight SAARC countries — India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives — are part of the ambitious project.

“During the 18th SAARC Summit, India offered to ‘gift’ a satellite to SAARC member states, to be named as the so-called ‘SAARC Satellite’. Subsequently, however, India made it clear that it would build, launch and operate the satellite solely,” Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said.

The cube-shaped 2,230 kg satellite “SAS” enables range of services to the neighbors like telecommunication, television, direct-to-home, VSATs, tele-education and telemedicine. The South Asian Satellite (SAS) mission life is 12 years.

Extract from ISRO’s press release:

India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F09) successfully launched the 2230 kg South |Asia Satellite (GSAT-9)  into its planned Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) today (May 05, 2017). Today’s launch of GSLV was its eleventh and took place from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota, the spaceport of India. This is the fourth consecutive success achieved by GSLV carrying indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage. In its oval shaped GTO, the South Asia Satellite is now orbiting the Earth with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 169 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 36,105 km with an orbital inclination of 20.65 deg with respect to the equator.

In the coming days, the satellite orbit will be raised from its present GTO to the final circular Geostationary Orbit (GSO) by firing the satellite’s Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) in stages. The South Asia Satellite will be commissioned into service after the completion of orbit raising operations and the satellite’s positioning in its designated slot in the GSO following in-orbit testing of its payloads.

Written by Baldeva Singh

Baldeva Singh is a tough talking nationalist who has a flair for writing. Defence matters, technical details on weapons and war scenarios are his key expert areas. Baldev is known to walk the talk in his personal life. He is from Patiala (Punjab). His friends call him a “blunt weapon” but he is often found reading old books when free!

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