India's first satellite dedicated to use by the military has been successfully launched into orbit. The GSAT-7, which has cost Rs. 185 crore, will transform the capabilities of the Indian Navy, allowing it to communicate with its fleet across the Indian Ocean through a top-secret encrypted system.
Navy ships will be able to exchange data about the precise location of enemy ships and submarines. In the process, each ship in the fleet will have a comprehensive digital map of the position of friendly forces and enemy forces. The frequency bands of GSAT-7 will help space-based marine communications.
Earlier, satellite communication in ships was through Inmarsat, a major provider of global mobile satellite communications services.
Built by the Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO, the satellite was launched during a 50-minute launch window starting 2 am from Kourou in South America using a French-made Ariane rocket. After a flight of almost 34 minutes, the satellite was injected into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) of 249 km perigee (nearest point to earth), 35,929 km apogee (farthest point to earth) and an inclination of 3.5 degree with respect to the equator.
Though the satellite has been built at home, India had to rent a European rocket for the launch since its own heavy rocket, the Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) has had several mishaps, the most recent being when it nearly went up in flames recently after a massive fuel leak.
The entire mission has cost India Rs. 655 crore, including the rental for the rocket and insurance.
With the launch of the 2.5 tonne satellite - as heavy as five adult elephants - India has joined a select club of countries including USA, Russian, France, Britain and China that have dedicated military communication satellites.