India’s first dedicated military satellite, GSAT-7, was launched on 29 August from Kourou, French Guiana, and reached its final geostationary orbital position on 3 September. It is expected to be operational by the end of the month.
The national space agency ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) developed the satellite for the Indian Navy. It is based on India’s I-2K spacecraft bus with a multi-band communications payload.
GSAT-7 will provide an integrated platform for voice and data communication as well as surveillance and intelligence-gathering, and is expected to contribute significantly towards improving the country’s maritime security.
From its orbital slot at 74°E, the satellite will cover a wide footprint across the country and surrounding oceans. It will provide UHF, S-band, C-band and Ku-band relay capacity for the Navy’s ships, submarines, aircraft and land bases.
India does not yet have a heavy-launch capability, so with a lift-off mass of 2,650kg, GSAT-7 was put into orbit from the Kourou spaceport by an Arianespace Ariane 5 heavy-lift vehicle.
After the launch ISRO confirmed that its Master Control Facility at Hassan in Karnataka was receiving signals from the satellite, and that the solar panels were generating power. From its geosynchronous transfer orbit the satellite was moved to its operational position in three stages by firing its liquid apogee motor.
The Arianespace flight, VA215, also carried a high-power relay platform jointly owned by Eutelsat Communications and Es’hailSat.