- Within less than 48 hours, ISRO has lost contact with the GSAT-6A communication satellite.
- Launched on: 29th March, 2018
- The first orbit-raising operation of the satellite was successfully carried out by firing the satellite’s LAM (liquid apogee motor) engine: 30th March, 2018
- Note: This put the satellite in an oval orbit around the earth.
- second orbit raising manoeuvre was successfully carried out: 1st April, 2018
- 4 minutes after the orbit-raising operation, the satellite stopped sending data.
- A third orbit raising exercise was due on 1st April, 2018.
- Note: In 2017, PSLV- C39 mission, carrying the IRNSS-1H navigation satellite also failed after the heat shield refused to open and release the satellite.
- GSAT-6Ais a communications satellite.
- It is under the operation of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
- It features a 6-metre (20 ft) unfurlable S-band antenna similar to the one used on GSAT-6.
- It has both civilian and defence applications.
- It will also provide a platform for developing technologies such as:
- demonstration of 6-metre S-Band unfurlable antenna,
- hand-held ground terminals and
- network management techniques that could be useful in satellite-based mobile communication applications.
Reasons behind GSAT-6A’s loss of contact with ground station:
- Scientists suspect an on-board power system malfunction.
- When that happens, it automatically goes into safe mode and there is loss of the link.
Limitations of ISRO’s satellite launches:
- There’s a lack of launch and satellite infrastructure.
- Note: It can launch only smaller satellites of around 1000kg or less and place them in near-earth orbits coming down to only around 800km above the earth.
- There is a shortage of Indian transponders.
- There are challenges for India’s communications and security needs.
- It has fallen back on repetitive launches of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
- Absence of the GSLV means that India is spending extra money and it is losing valuable opportunities for communications satellite launches.
- Although, PSLV is commercial value but limitations on payload mass and orbital altitude brings limited returns.
ISRO’s major failures so far:
- 10th August, 1979: The first SLV3-E1 crashed into sea because of a defective valve.
- 31st May, 1981: SLV3-D1 was a placed satellite into a wrong orbit.
- 24th March, 1987: First flight of ASLV-D1 didn’t succeed because of the failure in the ignition of first stage.
- 13th July, 1988: ASLV-D2, successor to ASLV-D1, too failed because of inadequate control.
- 20th September, 1993: PSLV-D1, the very first in the PSLV series, failed when the rocket was unable to ignite after the second stage separated.
- 18th April, 2001: GSLV Mk-I-D1, the first developmental flight of GSLV, failed to deploy its payload into the right orbit.
- 10th July, 2006: GSLV Mk-I-F02 was destroyed because its trajectory went outside expected limits.
- 15th April, 2010: The cryogenic upper stage of GSLV Mk-II-D3 failed after a fuel booster turbo pump packed up.
- 25th December, 2010: GSLV Mk-I-F06 was destroyed after control was lost over liquid fuel boosters.
- 8th August, 2017: The PSLV-C39 failed to launch the IRNSS-1H satellite because the heat shield didn’t open.
- With additional resources and manpower, ISRO can accomplish much higher success-notches.
- Also, ISRO has been known for its frugal innovation, so these kinds of satellite glitches should be taken as lessons-to-be-learnt for future projects.