India's most sophisticated and costliest satellite, Insat-2E, went into orbit in the early hours of 3 April aboard an Ariane-42P launch vehicle of the Arianespace, the European launch agency. The vehicle was launched from Kourou in French Guyana.
After all the required orbital negotiations controlled from the Indian Space Research Organisation's master control facility at Hassan in Karnataka were successfully completed, the satellite was placed in a geo-stationary transfer orbit over the Indian Ocean on 10 April, ready for the work it is expected to perform.
Insat 2E is India's first satellite to bring in commercial revenue for the country. In all these years, Isro has been building and launching satellites and maintaining them in space for use by the government's departments of communications, and information and broadcasting. Insat 2E marks the beginning of commmercial exploitation of India's satellite capability.
Isro has already leased out 10 of its transponders to Intelsat, the worldwide satellite communications network, for a $10 million annual fee. The remaining eight transponders have been taken up by the department of telecommunications, Doordarshan, the Indian meteorological department and by CMC Ltd. Most of the transponder capacity leased to Intelsat will be used by Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd, which is a signatory to the Intelsat consortium. VSNL, in turn will provide these transponders to regional television networks for channel uplinking. Telecom experts are blaming the archaic communication laws in the country for this anomalous situation in which Indian users of transponders have to go through an outside agency to lease transponder space on a domestic satellite. Some of the salient features of Insat 2E are:
- total cost: $68 million, or around Rs 220 crore
- 2,550 kg mass at lift-off
- 12 years of expected lifetime
- telecommunications and meteorological facilities
- 10 C-band transponders of 32 W each with a bandwidth of 36 Mhz and 7 transponders of 60 W each with a bandwidth of 36/72 Mhz.
- Two footprints -- one extending from Australia to Europe excluding Africa and another covering South-East Asia, China and India
- Orbiting at a height of 36,000 km, the nearest point of the satellite from earth will be 250 km.