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LAUNCH PAD
GSAT-8 put through its paces

File image.
by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (SPX) Apr 26, 2011
The Indian GSAT-8 multi-role spacecraft for Arianespace's next Ariane 5 mission is undergoing an in-depth checkout at the Spaceport in French Guiana in preparation for its liftoff on May 19.

GSAT-8 was built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) using its I-3K satellite bus, and validations being performed in the Spaceport's S5 payload preparation facility include antenna and solar panel deployments.

With a liftoff mass of 3,100 kg., GSAT-8 carries 24 transponders to augment India's Ku-band relay capabilities, and also is equipped with the two-channel GAGAN (GPS and GEO augmented navigation) system. GAGAN will support the Indian government's implementation of a regional satellite-based augmentation system to assist in the navigation of aircraft over Indian airspace and in adjoining areas.

The upcoming GSAT-8 launch will continue India's long-term relationship with launch services provided by Ariane, which dates back 30 years to the orbiting of the country's APPLE experimental payload.

In total, 13 Indian satellites have been lofted by Ariane launchers, beginning with APPLE in 1981, and followed by INSAT-1C in 1988, INSAT-2A in 1992, INSAT-2B in 1993, INSAT-2C in 1995, INSAT-2D in 1997, INSAT-2E in 1999, INSAT-3B in 2000, INSAT-3C in 2002, INSAT-3E and INSAT-3A in 2003, INSAT-4A in 2005 and INSAT-4B in 2007. Another satellite operated by India was INSAT-2DT, which originally was orbited by Ariane in 1992 as Arabsat-1C and acquired by ISRO in November 1997.

For the upcoming launch, GSAT-8 will be joined by a co-passenger - ST-2 for the ST-2 Satellite Ventures joint company - on Arianespace's third Ariane 5 mission of the year at French Guiana.

Arianespace is targeting a total of six heavy-lift Ariane 5 flights from the Spaceport during 2011, along with two initial launches of the medium-lift Soyuz, and the maiden flight of its lightweight Vega. Additionally, three Soyuz flights from Baikonur Cosmodrome are slated for this year, to be performed on behalf of Arianespace by its Starsem affiliate.



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