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Insat 3A launch tomorrow

Our Bureau

BANGALORE, April 7

IN the wee hours of Wednesday, Insat 3A, the multipurpose satellite that has been long overdue, will finally take off into space.

The mainly telecom and broadcasting satellite contains weather and search and rescue payloads. 3A will fly on board the European launcher Ariane 5 with Galaxy XII of Panamsat as co-passenger.

Its launch, originally planned in early 2002, has been delayed due to two major mishaps that Arianespace's launch programme had — in August 2001 and again in December last year. In March 2001, ISRO also advanced 3B ahead of 3A and again brought forward 3C in January 2002 to meet its clientele, of late a growing group of the private sector broadcasters and VSAT operators.

With this launch, it expects to boost its transponder capacity to over 100 through five birds in orbit. The Indian demand is projected to reach 250 transponders in the next 10 years.

Though 3C (3C) has somewhat helped ISRO's capacity position, this and 3A are actually meant to replace the aging Insat 2C and 2DT.

The ISRO has also been renewing its Thaicom transponder lease and in August 2001 also leased three Ku band transponders for three years on the US satellite GE-1A.

3A weighs 2.95 tonnes and carries 24 transponders — 12 in C band, six in Ku band and six more in the upper extended C band, along with one meant for search and rescue operations.

The ISRO on Monday said all preparations have been made for the launch on board Arianespace's Flight 160 from Kourou in French Guyana on April 9 between 4.19 am and 5 am IST. The Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan will take control as soon as the satellite is launched into a transfer orbit.

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