On 5 May 2017 at 4:57 pm India launched the first South Asian Satellite. As may be expected, the Indian Government has funded the entire operation, which has been carried out by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is being assumed that this act of India would provide a fillip to its neighbourhood first policy and also help the economic giant-in-waiting create a special place for itself in the context of space diplomacy through this gift to its neighbours. The South Asia Satellite is also known as GSAT-9 and it provides a number of benefits such as mapping natural resources, information technology (IT) connectivity, telemedicine, and links between people of different countries.
How can it help India diplomatically?
It is expected that the South Asia Satellite will help India strengthen its relations further with other countries in the region such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. At the same time, it is also expected to improve relations between India and Pakistan – at least mitigate the bad vibes to an extent. In fact, Pakistan is the only country in South Asia that has decided not to be a part of the project. Narendra Modi has termed this launch as a historic moment.
Some technical information
The GSAT-9 satellite was carried by GSLV-F09 (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle), which has been developed by ISRO as well. The rocket also has a cryogenic upper stage built in India itself. The Second Launch Pad (SLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, was used to launch the satellite. The satellite cost Indian Government INR 235 crore. It is expected that this satellite will improve telecommunication and disaster links between the countries that have agreed to be benefitted by the programme. The scientists at ISRO have been congratulated by the Prime Minister of India following the launch. He has commended the hard work that has gone behind the successful launch of the satellite.
A matter of pride
Modi has expressed pride at the way the scientists have worked hard to produce positive results. In fact, the launch was made more special with the heads of state from the six beneficiaries joining the programme. In fact, they took part in the same through video conference and addressed the press as well. The list of dignitaries may be mentioned as below:
- Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan
- Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh
- Tshering Tobgay, Prime Minister of Bhutan
- Abdulla Yameen, President of Maldives
- Pushpa Kumar Dahal (Prachanda), Prime Minister of Nepal
- Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka
In fact, Modi has stated that the launch of the new satellite shows that as far as regional cooperation in South Asia is concerned even sky cannot be taken as the limit. He said that this satellite launch can act as a guiding light for more such endeavours in the future. The Prime Minister of India also feels that the new satellite will significantly aid progress and development in South Asia. Apart from its capabilities that have already been mentioned, the new satellite comes armed with broadcasting capacity.