ISRO's GSAT 30 satellite successfully rides the Ariane 5 rocket into orbit abroad the first launch of 2020

Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) GSAT-30 communications satellite launched from the Guiana Space Center off the northern coast of South AmericaESA/CNES/Arianespace
  • India's GSAT-30 communications satellite was successfully placed into Geostationary Transit Orbit (GTO) on Friday morning by Arianespace.
  • Ariane 5ECA is the first rocket to launch in 2020.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) satellite was accompanied by the Eutelsat Konnect satellite from France.
In the first launch of 2020, two satellites —including the Indian Space Research Organisation’s ( ISRO) GSAT 30 — soared into orbit Friday morning from the Guana Space Center (CSG) in French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 rocket.

“It’s an excellent start of 2020 with an excellent launch. ISRO has opened its mission calendar for the year 2020 with the successful launch of GSAT 30 by Ariane 5,” said. P. Kunhikrishanan, Director of the U R Rao Satellite Centre, during the post-launch press conference.

“Incidentally Arianespace’s started its launch innings in 2019 with launch of an Indian satellite as well, the GSAT-31,” he added.

P. Kunhikrishnan, Director of URSC/ISROESA/CNES/Arianespace

European Space Agency’s ( ESA) commercial arm — Arianespace — launched the satellites off the northern coast of South America at 02:30 am IST on Friday.

The 51.03-meter tall rocket weighing 780 tons climbed into the sky with 2.9 million pounds of thrust from its core engine and solid-fueled boosters.

This may be the first launch of 2020 but its one of the last for Ariane 5. ESA’s Ariane 6 is scheduled for its first launch in 2020. After a transition period of five years, Ariane 5 will take its last trip into space in 2023.

Ariane 5ECA lift-offESA/CNES/Arianespace

Play-by-play of 2020’s first rocket launch
Ariane 5ECA blazed a trail across the equatorial sky coming out on the other side of the clouds. Powering its way into space, Ariane 5 broke the sound barrier and was travelling at Mach 1 one minute into the launch.

Ariane 5 breaks through the clouds carrying two communications satellitesESA/CNES/Arianespace

The rocket’s boosters did 90% of the work, pushing the payloads against Earth’s gravity by burning 2 tons of propellant per second — an average year’s worth of gas for a car.

Boosters propel Ariane 5 into the sky after lift offESA/CNES/Arianespace

The first payload — GSAT 30’s fellow passenger the Eutelsat Konnect satellite — was deployed at an altitude of 1000 kilometres. The broadband communications satellite for the Paris-based company is based on a new satellite design by Thales Alenia Space with an all-electric propulsion system and xenon plasma thrusters.

After a cumulative 38 minutes, Ariane 5 placed the GSAT 30 into geostationary transit orbit (GTO). From here, the satellite will raise its orbit from the to the final circular geostationary orbit (GSO) by controlled firing of its motor. That’s when it will finally deploy its solar panels and antennas.

What does GSAT 30 do?
India’s 3357-kilo GSAT 30 satellite is a replacement for Insat 4A — launched back in 2005, also abroad an Ariane 5 rocket. However, the Insat 4A is well beyond its designated lifespan of 10 years.

GSAT 30 satellite arrives at French Guiana

GSAT 30 will operate from 83 degrees east longitude from Earth’s geostationary orbit. It will help cable operators broadcast their content overseas. ISRO’s claims the GSAT 30 will increase the C-band and K-band coverage over India, its islands, Asian countries, Gulf countries and Australia.

"GSAT 30 will provide continuity of direct-to-home TV services from this slot, as well as digital satellite news-gathering and very small aperture terminal services," said ISRO chairman K. Sivan prior to the launch.

GSAT 30 satelliteISRO

That satellite has been designed to last at least 15 years with 12 C-band transponders and 12 Ku-band transponders. It has three-axis stabilised momentum-based control systems with a host of sensors, reaction wheels and thrusters.

"The Ku-band transponders will provide services over the Indian mainland and islands. The satellite employs high-power amplifier and state-of-the-art antenna systems to meet the requirements of multiple users," Sivan explained.

In order to maneuver in space, the satellite hastwo large propellant tanks accommodated within its central structural cylinder. The liquid apogee motor — GSAT 30’s main engine — is mounted on a separate deck with interfaces with the bottom ring of the cylinder. The power system of the satellite includes double-side solar arrays for generating electric power in addition a lithium-ion battery of 180 amps of capacity.

Until now, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched 20 other GSAT satellites — 14 of which are still in service. The last one was GSAT-31, launched in February last year. However, ISRO plans to launch at least three more GSAT satellites in 2020.

See also:
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