New Delhi: A 28-hour countdown is underway for the South Asia Satellite, which will lift off today from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. The Rs. 235-crore communications satellite will be propelled into space by the Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).
The satellite, which will cater to seven nations, including India, has been built in three years. The biggest beneficiaries however could be Bhutan and Maldives as the rest have their own fledgling space programmes. India's most hostile neighbour Pakistan is not participating in the project.
Here are interesting facts about South Asia Satellite:
- The Indian space agency ISRO built the 2,230-kg communication satellite over three years.
- The satellite had been built at a cost of Rs. 235 crore and the total cost of the project was Rs. 450 crore.
- The satellite will be carried in a nearly 50m-tall rocket that weighs about 412 tons.
- The functions of the satellite will include natural resources mapping, telemedicine, education, deeper IT connectivity.
- Apart from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan already have full-fledged communication satellites. While Pakistan and Sri Lanka have developed the satellite with China's help, Afghanistan has an old India-made satellite acquired from Europe. Bangladesh is likely to have a satellite later this year.
- The satellite has 12 Ku-band transponders -- devices that help in communication. Each nation will get access to at least one transponder. India said it was ready to help them with the ground infrastructure.