A communications satellite, dubbed the "Indian Angry Bird", meant for the exclusive use of the Indian Air Force, took off from the launchpad of Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh and was placed in orbit this evening. The GSAT-7A will connect all IAF assets like planes, air-borne early warning control platforms and drones with each other and ground stations, and work towards a network-centric warfare capability.
It will also reduce the possibility of snooping and leakage of information that's possible while using satellites launched by foreign operators.
After the launch, the elated chairman of ISRO, Dr K Sivan, said: "In 35 days, this was the 7th mission by ISRO... four Indian made satellites have been launched and 3 rockets have been successfully launched from Sriharikota." The upgraded GSLV Mk II rocket "performed marvelously" he added.
"Congratulate @isro for successfully launching the advanced communication satellite GSAT-7A, with launch vehicle GSLV-F11, from #Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh today. The 2250 kg satellite built by #ISRO will be a big boost to our defence capabilities," tweeted vice-president Venkaiah Naidu.
Space agency ISRO's Christmas present for the IAF also happens to be its 17th mission.For Team ISRO, he had a "big New Year gift -- they will launch 32 missions in 2019," Dr Sivan said.
The 2,250-kg satellite is piggybacking on the GSLV MK II (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) which is powered by an indigenous cryogenic engine. This is the seventh flight of the rocket with Indian-made cryogenic engine.
Scientists said the satellite will have a mission life of eight years.
The Navy already has a similar satellite, the GSAT-7, which was launched in August 2013, said Navy spokesperson Captain DK Sharma. It helps the Navy warships, submarines and maritime aircraft with inputs across the Indian Ocean region and safe communications capacity.
The two satellites, along with a third - the GSAT-6, will be the communications hub for the military.
The country already has a battery of earth-imaging CartoSAT series of satellites and a Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite that provide inputs to secure India's borders.
India also gets data from Canada's RadarSat 2 satellite that helps with natural disasters and resource management. It complements ISRO's radar satellite RISAT-1, which is used for reconnaissance activities.
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