India’s latest communication satellite GSAT-18 was successfully launched early this morning by a heavy duty rocket of Arianespace from the spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana. The European launcher Ariane-5 VA-231 blasted off at around 2 AM Indian Time and injected GSAT-18 into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit shortly after orbiting co-passenger Sky Muster II satellite for Australian operator, National Broadband Network. The launch, originally scheduled for yesterday, was deferred by 24 hours due to unfavourable weather conditions at Kourou, a French territory located in northeastern coast of South America.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman AS Kiran Kumar, who witnessed the launch from the mission control centre, said, GSAT-18 is an important satellite for India that will enable the continuity of the vital communication services in the country by replacing the currently ageing satellites. Weighing 3,404 kgs at lift-off and having a mission life of about 15 years, GSAT-18 will strengthen ISRO’s current fleet of 14 operational telecommunication satellites. It carries 48 communication transponders to provide services in Normal C-band, Upper Extended C-band and Ku-bands of the frequency spectrum.
GSAT-18 is the 20th satellite from ISRO to be launched by the European space agency and the mission is the 280th for Arianespace launcher family. ISRO, which has been dependent on Ariane-5 rocket for carrying its heavier satellites, is developing GSLV Mk III for this purpose. GSAT-18’s co-passenger Sky Muster II, built by Space Systems Loral in California, is aimed at bridging the digital divide, especially in the rural and isolated regions of Australia.