In its first space mission of the year, India has sent its GSAT-30 communications satellite into orbit, where it will replace another aging craft. The launch went off without a hitch.
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) announced early on Friday that the spacecraft had reached orbit without issues. The launch was carried out from a facility in French Guiana in conjunction with French-based aerospace firm, Arianespace, which provided its Ariane 5 rockets for the mission.
“By operating GSAT-30, ISRO will – once again – foster the use of space to help bridge the digital divide in the Indian subcontinent as part of its ambitious space program,” an Arianespace spokesperson said in a statement.
The GSAT-30, which weighs in at 7,400 pounds (3,357 kg), will replace the INSAT-4A spacecraft, providing the Indian mainland and its island territories with extended coverage in Ku-band frequencies – used for satellite television, among other things – as well as widening C-band coverage over large swaths of the Persian Gulf and elsewhere in Asia.
“It will provide [direct-to-home television] services, digital news gathering and Ku-band will provide communication services in the Indian mainland,” said ISRO chairman Kailasavadivoo Sivan.
The new craft has a 15-year lifespan, outdoing the 12-year expiration date of the INSAT-4A, which came and passed nearly two years ago, creating a sore need for the GSAT-30.
Another craft belonging to European satellite operator Eutelsat was also carried into orbit aboard the Ariane 5 rocket, making the vehicle’s 107th successful launch. Both satellites reached their destination about 30 minutes after liftoff.
India has big plans for space travel in 2020, with the country slated to launch its third lunar exploration mission in November. A previous endeavor failed last year after mission control lost contact with the Chandrayaan-2 moon rover, but the ISRO hopes to make a better showing the next time around.