GSAT-7A, ISRO’s ‘Angry Bird’, Takes to The Skies

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India on Wednesday successfully launched its latest advanced satellite, GSAT-7A, from Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota. Dubbed ‘Angry Bird’, the satellite will give a boost to the strategic communication and networking capabilities of the Indian Air Force.

An anxious ISRO Chairman K. Sivan on Wednesday watched the flight path of the GSLV-F11 intently as it soared into the evening sky carrying communication satellite GSAT-7A.

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F11) launched communication satellite GSAT-7A from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 4.10pm. The launch was the seventh mission of ISRO from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in 2018. GSLV-F11 was also the seventh flight carrying indigenously developed cryogenic upper stage. The satellite, being dubbed as ‘angry bird’ by some, is likely to enhance the range of communication and also aid in aircraft to aircraft communication.

This will be the 39th Indian communications satellite to provide services to users in Ku-band over the Indian region. This frequency range is often used for satellite communications. The 2,250 kg GSAT-7A has a mission life of eight years. It will provide for a secure mode of communication and will be for the exclusive use of the IAF. After reaching its orbit in a few days, it will facilitate exclusive frequency flight communications for IAF.

Earlier, referring to the salient features of the GSLV-F11 launch, Mr Somanath, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre Director, said the vehicle was an improved version where scientists brought changes in the cryogenic stage as well as the second stage to improve payload capability. “This resulted in a lot of engineering changes and new elements. The (GSLV) vehicle itself is 1.5 metres longer than the previous GSLVs and it calls for understanding aerodynamics, hardware design and control systems.”

The second stage propellant loading of the vehicle has been increased from 37.5 tons to 40 tons while cryogenic stage propellant loading from 12 tons to 15 tons along with enhanced thrust value for the cryogenic stage. Referring to how presence of cyclone Phethai in the Bay of Bengal created “anxious” moments for ISRO scientists, Mr Sivan said, “This particular mission has given clearly a lot of anxiety to all of us. Because the weather god was not conducive for us (for) a week.”