Days after launch, ISRO loses contact with GSAT-6A
Three days after launching the GSAT-6A, the ISRO has confirmed that communication from the satellite has been lost after the second firing of the on-board engine yesterday. "Efforts are underway to establish links with the satellite," the space agency said. Rumors about a power glitch during the GSATS-6A's second orbit manoeuvre from the Master Control Facility (MCF), Hassan, had made the rounds since yesterday.
The GSAT-6A communication satellite was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, AP, on March 29. It is a high-power S-band communication satellite with a mission life of about 10 years. It primarily aims to provide mobile communication to India through a multi-beam coverage, but will also "provide services for defense purposes." Hours later, ISRO released video captured by cameras on board.
At first, the GSAT-6A was placed in an initial elliptical orbit of 169.4kmx36,692km. Within minutes, MCF picked up control. From the next day, it started routinely correcting the elliptical orbit into a circular one, likely to last for 7-10 days. After the first on-board motor firing on March 30, its orbit became 36,412kmx5,054km with an inclination of 11.93 degrees to the Equator.
The second orbit raising is said to have taken place at 10:15am on March 31, but ISRO initially didn't release details. But The Hindu reports that its top officials, including Chairman K. Sivan, went into a huddle with ISRO Satellite Centre and MCF officials went into a huddle at the ISRO headquarters, and then again at MCF.
GSAT-6A is a 2,140 kg satellite meant to provide mobile communication through hand-held ground terminals. Its launch marked ISRO's fifth consecutive success for a GSLV using an indigenous cryogenic upper stage engine to launch a satellite in GTO. It had given a major boost to India's second moon mission at the end of this year- sending 3,290kg Chandrayaan 2 to orbit the moon.
Last year, the ISRO lost the IRNSS-1H; reports said it had overloaded the PSLVC39-rocket with one tonne of extra weight. But the agency attributed the loss to a heat shield failure. The satellite was launched by ISRO's star launch vehicle PSLV-C39, and was expected to enhance India's own GPS-like system called NavIC. The IRNSS-1H was set to replace India's first navigation satellite IRNSS-1A.