NEW DELHI: The South Asian Cooperation reached stratospheric levels on Friday as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched the region's first satellite, witnessed by leadership of all the SAARC countries, sans Pakistan.
The historic launch of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) at 4.57 pm from Sriharikota launch centre in Andhra Pradesh was witnessed by the heads of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives and Nepal through video conferencing and the countries' Ambassadors were present at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
India, the only South Asian country with satellite launching capability, mooted the plan to launch a dedicated satellite for the region on June 30, 2014.
Overcoming Pakistan's exit, the satellite materialised in nearly two years at the cost of Rs. 450 crores.
The satellite, completely funded by India, will now undergo a series of orbit-raising manoeuvres, along with in-orbit testing.
The spacecraft will reach towards its operational status by May 25, 2017. Its mission life is 12 years.
Pakistan has refused to be part of the project and the launch comes at a time when the ties between the two countries have hit rock-bottom. And India did not forget celebrate the successful launch to bring home the importance of “cooperation, not conflict”.
“The project will touch the lives of the people of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India through regional cooperation in the area of space technology applications in telecommunication and broadcasting, tele-medicine, tele-education, e-governance, banking/ ATM services, cellular back-haul, meteorological data transmission, disaster response and networking of academic and research institutions,” Modi said addressing the leaders from the South Asian countries participating in the project.
“The South Asia Satellite demonstrated that our collective choices for our citizens will bring us together for cooperation, not conflict; development, not destruction; and prosperity not poverty,” Modi added.
In sorts of “mini-SAARC”, Modi was joined by President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay, President of Maldives Abdulla Yameen, Prime Minister of Nepal Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” and President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena in hailing the successful launch.
The South Asia Satellite is planned to provide Ku-band broadcasting and telecommunication services.
In order to enable test television transmission in the national languages of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, India has established required ground station facility in New Delhi. The test television transmissions will also be available over Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The transmission can be viewed by citizens of these nations by using commercially available off-the-shelf and set-top-boxes.
The satellite is designed to facilitate each country with their own ground setup for broadcasting their television channels and also VSAT services like E-governance, ATMs, etc., with dedicate satellite resources.