THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The launch of GSAT-9 communication satellite in July this year will mark ISRO’s first encounter with electric propulsion for satellite station-keeping, ISRO officials said here on Friday.
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mk II (GSLV-Mk II) will put GSAT-9 in the orbit, ISRO chairman A S Kiran Kumar told reporters at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thumba. Nowadays, ISRO satellites carry liquid fuel and oxidiser on board to power thrusters for adjusting orbits and other station-keeping manoeuvres.
The fuel, however, takes up almost half the mass of a satellite. Replacing it with electric propulsion will enable the space agency to enhance the satellite’s life by at least four years and increase payload capability. The life of a 2,000-2,500 kg GSAT satellite is 10-12 years now. ISRO had earlier planned the GSAT-9 launch in 2017.
As part of its plans to scale up number of launches to at least two a month, ISRO is hoping to commission the second vehicle assembly complex at Sriharikota by next year. This will enable the space agency to speed up the launch process, Kiran Kumar said.