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ISRO defers launch of GSAT-11; Recalls satellite to carry out additional checks

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The GSAT-11 was scheduled for launch by European space transporter Arianespace from the Kourou spaceport in May 2018.

BENGALURU (PTI): ISRO has rescheduled the high-profile launch of its advanced communication satellite GSAT-11, the heaviest made in India, from Kourou, French Guiana, for additional technical checks, and recalled the spacecraft.

"The Indian Space Research Organisation's move to put off the May 25 launch comes weeks after the country's communication satellite with military applications GSAT-6A went missing after a perfect launch.

ISRO Chairman K Sivan said they wanted to carry out some tests and the satellite was in the process of being shipped back.

"We wanted to do some tests. That is all," he told PTI.

Replying to a question, he said: "Right now, it is planned to bring the satellite back to India to carry out some tests and then we will be taking it back," he said, adding no time frame could be set for the process.

"GSAT-11, with a lift-off mass of over 5,700 kg, was initially planned to ride piggyback with co-passengers on Ariane space rocket on its mission on May 25.

"The launch of GSAT-11 scheduled during May 2018 from Kourou, French Guiana is rescheduled. The revised launch date will be communicated subsequently," the city headquartered ISRO said in a brief statement.

The space agency's statement gave no reason for rescheduling the launch.

"However, in a statement on its website, European space transporter Arianespace said the Ariane 5 launch numbered VA243 had been postponed due to additional technical checks the satellite needs to undergo.

"It said the Ariane 5 launch was initially planned for May 25.

"Arianespace was also scheduled to put into space Azerspace-2/Intelsat-38 along with GSAT-11, which is designed to provide 12 Gbps (gigabit per second) capacity and multi-spot beam coverage over the Indian mainland and nearby islands, bringing significant advantages to the user community.

"GSAT-11 had arrived at the European spaceport in French Guiana in South America on March 30.

According to ISRO, GSAT-11 is a multi-beam high throughput communication satellite operating in Ka and Ku-bands employing a new bus. It provides 32 user beams in Ku-band and 8 gateway beams in Ka-band.

The payload includes Ka x Ku-band forward link transponders and Ku x Ka band return link transponders.

ISRO had recently reported it had lost contact with GSAT-6A, which was launched on March 29, and was making efforts to link with it.

The contact with GSAT-6A was snapped when ISRO scientists attempted to ignite the engine in the third and final move to put the satellite in its desired location after its textbook launch from the space port of Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

In August last year, India's mission to launch its backup navigation satellite IRNSS-1H on board PSLV-C39 ended in a failure after a technical fault on the final leg following a perfect launch.

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