The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) propelled the country’s heaviest satellite GSAT-19 from its most powerful launcher, the GSLV MK-III-D1 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. Touted to be a game-changer, the monster rocket that is as tall as a 12-storey building, is capable of carrying loads of up to 4,000 kg in the geosynchronous transfer orbit and 10,000 kg into the low earth orbit.
In the absence of a formidable homegrown launcher, historically, the space agency relied on European rockets for satellites that weighed above 2 tonne. In addition to reducing the country’s dependency on international launch vehicles, this communication satellite is set to improve internet speed and connectivity.
Nicknamed ‘Fatboy’ the successful launch is a major step in India’s quest to promote its homegrown space programme coupled with a tag of low cost technology. India made headlines in 2014 for successfully completing its Mars mission for just $73 million as compared to NASA’s $671-million Maven Mars mission. Today’s successful launch is also set to give flight to India’s manned mission plans for the future. India aspires to become the fourth nation after Russia, the US and China to put an astronaut in space. And it has made several strides in this direction, one includes the crew module testing with the same launcher in 2014.
India has come a long way since the first launch in 1960s and is now eyeing a bigger share of the $300 billion global space market. It currently accounts for 0.6% of the global launch services market and is eyeing a bigger share of global space industry that was pegged at $323 billion in 2015 as per a 2015 Space Foundation report.