The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched five foreign satellites into space on 30 June 2014. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flagged off the satellites. The satellites were launched using ISRO’s own Polar Space Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C-23 rocket. This significant event took place in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. To make our country’s satellite-based navigation system known to the global world and to serve the interests of the entire region, PM Narendra Modi had requested the Indian space and scientist community to develop a SAARC satellite by 2016.
What is the SAARC Satellite?
The SAARC satellite will be launched to serve the needs of India and neighbouring SAARC countries. This will be a communication-cum-meteorology satellite to be launched by ISRO. The spaceship will be ready by December 2016 before SAARC summit. India could dedicate this SAARC satellite to its neighbourhood countries as a ‘gift’.
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
The Objective of the SAARC Satellite
According to ISRO chairman Kiran Kumar, there has been a growing demand for space services from China and other countries in SAARC nations. Launching the SAARC satellite in 2016 will be due to several commercial as well as strategic reasons. The demand for ISRO’s services increased after the successful Moon and Mars missions. While countries from the UK and the US have sought ISRO’s services and opted for joint missions, Indian has been ignored by its neighbours. For instance, with China’s help, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have launched communication satellites. Afghanistan has leased a part of French telecommunication satellite, Eutelsat 48D. Bangladesh, another SAARC member, has hired a US-based space consultancy firm to launch its own satellite by 2017.
With the announcement of the SAARC satellite in 2014, Modi made an attempt to reach out to these neighbours who have ignored India’s capabilities in the space world. Amongst the SAARC countries, India has got the maximum number of satellites operating in various orbits.
According to Kiran Kumar, the design and functionalities of the SAARC satellite will soon be finalised. As of now, the satellite can be used by the SAARC nations as a communication satellite. The scientists are working on the capabilities and functionalities of the satellite so that it serves larger interest of the people of India and its neighbours with a full range of applications and services.
How Will it Help?
- Launching such a satellite will help in improving India’s relationship with neighbouring nations.
- Advancement in space technology plays a critical role in realising the vision of a Digital India. It is the space satellite that has the power to connect 125 crore Indians.
- The satellite will help in management and conservation of water resources through GIS-driven watershed development.
- It will provide real-time scientific data considering the fact that it will cover the entire SAARC region with a long coastline of around 12,000 kms. This will help in weather forecasting and preventing natural disasters considerably.
- According to reports, the SAARC satellite would benefit tele-medicine, disaster response, education, resource management, communication sectors, etc.