GSAT-6A satellite remains silent on orbit
The GSAT-6A communications satellite that was launched atop a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark II rocket March 29, 2018, has not been heard from since the satellite’s Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) completed its second orbit-raising burn, the Indian Space Resource Organisation (ISRO) confirmed on its website.
The second orbit raising burn occurred March 31 and it should have been followed by a third burn of the LAM. However according to an article in the Times of India, the satellite stopped sending data approximately four minutes after the second burn completed. The ISRO has, as of this writing, failed to re-establish communications with the satellite.
“After the successful long duration firings, when the satellite was on course to normal operating configuration for the third and the final firing, scheduled for April 1, 2018, communication from the satellite was lost,” reads an April 1 update on the ISRO website.
According to an April 7 report in the New Indian Express, the ISRO chairman, Kailasavadivoo Sivan, said a preliminary analysis showed that there is no problem with any of the satellite’s systems and, due to an “external disturbance,” the vehicle went into safe mode.
“We have a mechanism to re-establish the communication link in such cases and the ISRO is putting its best foot forward,” Sivan told the New Indian Express. “So this will not deter the space agency from going ahead with its future missions.”
The $41 million, 4,600-pound (2,100-kilogram) GSAT-6A S-Band communications satellite was supposed to have a lifespan of about 10 years and join GSAT-6 and other satellites already on orbit. It has two onboard solar panels and can generate more than 3,000 watts of electricity.
In addition to providing communications, the satellite was also designed to demonstrate new technologies such as an almost 20-foot (6-meter) unfuralable S-Band Antenna, and to aid in the development of portable handheld ground terminals that could be useful in mobile communications applications. The satellite would have also provided services to the Indian Armed Forces according to the ISRO.
This hasn’t, however, deterred the ISRO from pressing forward with its next launch, which is scheduled for 6:34 p.m. EDT (22:34 GMT) April 11, 2018. That mission will see a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle send the IRNSS-1I satellite into orbit from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. It will be the eighth satellite to join the country’s NavIC navigation satellite constellation.
Lloyd Campbell’s first interest in space began when he was a very young boy in the 1960s with NASA’s Gemini and Apollo programs. That passion continued in the early 1970s with our continued exploration of our Moon, and was renewed by the Shuttle Program. Having attended the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on its final two missions, STS-131, and STS-133, he began to do more social networking on space and that developed into writing more in-depth articles. Since then he’s attended the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, the agency’s new crew-rated Orion spacecraft on Exploration Flight Test 1, and multiple other uncrewed launches. In addition to writing, Lloyd has also been doing more photography of launches and aviation. He enjoys all aspects of space exploration, both human, and robotic, but his primary passions lie with human exploration and the vehicles, rockets, and other technologies that allow humanity to explore space.