THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 16 November 2018 ( Another orbit: on GSAT29 launch )

Another orbit: on GSAT29 launch

Mains Paper 2: Science and Technology
Prelims level: GSAT29 launch
Mains level: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space


  •  The Indian Space Research Organisation has marked a big milestone by successfully testing its heavy-lift launcher while launching an advanced communication satellite.
  •  It plans to use this for the Chandrayaan-II moon mission in the early months of 2019.
  •  On Wednesday the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle MarkIII (GSLV MkIII) launched GSAT29.

Key highlights of this program launched

  •  It is an advanced communications satellite, into a geosynchronous transfer orbit where the satellite’s closest approach to earth would be 190 km and the farthest 35,975 km.
  •  The launcher bearing the 3,423 kg satellite took off from a launchpad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.
  •  Seventeen minutes later, after various stages, the vehicle injected the satellite into the transfer orbit.
  •  ISRO’s master control facility at Hassan assumed the command and control of the satellite, and it will be manoeuvred into a geostationary orbit, its final destination, in days.
  •  Once placed, the satellite’s solar panels and antennae will unfold and work will begin.
  •  With a liftoff mass of 640 tonnes, the GSLV MkIII is the heaviest launch vehicle made in India, and GSAT29 is the heaviest satellite to take off from Indian soil.
  •  Both launcher and satellite have other characteristics that make them stand out.
  •  The launcher can carry payloads up to 4 tonnes to the geosynchronous transfer orbit and up to 10 tonnes to a low-earth orbit.
  •  The multi-band, multi-beam satellite can cater to the communication needs of people in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast.


  •  The first successful experimental flight of the GSLV MkIII was in 2014 when it carried a dummy crew module as a payload.
  •  This proved its capacity in the atmospheric flight regime. Its first developmental flight was on June 5, 2017, when it launched GSAT19, weighing 3,136 kg.
  •  The present launch marked the second developmental flight of the MkIII. With these two successes.
  •  The launcher is declared ‘operational’ and joins the ranks of the working vehicles, the PSLV and the GSLV.
  •  This is far fewer than the number of developmental flights the older launch vehicles were subjected to.
  •  This is because the solid and liquid propellant stages had been tested before.
  •  The third cryogenic stage could establish its performance in just two developmental flights.

Way forward

  •  These were preceded by numerous experimental flights and ground-based tests.
  •  This success sets the stage for trying out variations such as other types of engines, different fuel combinations and higher launch capacity.
  •  The GSLV MkIII has not just boosted the satellite into its orbit, but also restored morale at ISRO, which had been dented by the GSAT 6A setback.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) ISRO has recently launched the GSAT-series communication satellite from Andhra Pradesh. The launched GSAT is of which series?
A. GSAT-25
B. GSAT-26
C. GSAT-27
D. GSAT-29

Answer: D

Mains Questions:
Q.1) The GSLV-GSAT launch enhances India’s capacity to meet its communication needs. Explain it.