ISRO's GSAT-6A lifted off on the back of the heavyweight GSLV rocket from Sriharikota

No update has been released by ISRO in last 48 hours: Sources. Sources in ISRO say the satellite has suffered a serious setback. GSAT-6A is communications satellite largely used for defence purposes

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) that usually shares the information over the current position of a satellite has kept mum about the GSAT-6A satellite which was launched into space some 48 hours back. The last update over the location of the GSAT-6A satellite came in at around 9:22 AM on March 30. The information came in after the first orbit raising was done. If reports are to be believed, the GSAT-6A satellite has suffered a massive setback in the space. In order to correct the unexpected, the engineers and scientists at ISRO are working round the clock to bring situations back to normal.

As per ISRO, the power systems of the satellite are facing some problems. It is hard to say if the satellite can even be retrieved. The GSAT-6A by ISRO is a communication satellite made to serve the defence services. The satellite's cost ISRO is around Rs 270 crores. ISRO’s GSAT-6A was successfully launched on March 29 from Sriharikota using Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk II.

It should be noted here that ISRO is using new advanced indigenous power generation and management technologies. The satellite measures 2.1 x 2.5 x 4.1 meters in size when in its launch configuration, expanding into an envelope of 9.4 x 9.6 x 6.1 meters when deploying its two-power generating solar arrays and the antenna reflectors. Its two solar arrays, each comprising two hinged panels and a solar tracking mechanism, deliver an end-of-life power of 3,150 Watts via Ultra-Triple Junction Ga-As solar cells, feeding power to 16-cell Li-Ion batteries with a capacity of 100 Amp-hours. The upgraded power architecture of the GSAT-6 series employs a 40-Volt power bus for the platform systems based on GSAT heritage and a new 70-Volt architecture serves the payload via a regulated power bus.

The second orbit-raising exercise that took place at around 10 AM went normal but a few minutes later there was some problem in communications which was noticed by the scientists present. Also, the customary official statement on the manoeuvre did not happen and no word was sounded on the third orbit raising exercise. Earlier in 2017, ISRO had faced a failure on August 31 after it failed to launch IRNSS-1H satellite.

ISRO posted an update at 9:22 am on Friday, when the first orbit-raising was carried out. People familiar with the matter said the second orbit-raising was also successful; the thrusters were fired for 53 minutes on Saturday morning.

While the satellite was preparing for the third and final orbit-raising, ISRO said it lost communications with it. Efforts are on to establish link with the satellite again, the statement added.

"The second orbit raising operation of GSAT-6A satellite has been successfully carried out by LAM Engine firing for about 53 minutes on March 31, 2018 in the morning... 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," ISRO said in the statement.

The home-made satellite, built at a cost of Rs. 270 crore, is expected to send and receive signals from hand-held devices.

The GSAT-6A carries one of the largest antennas that has been built by ISRO, its former chairman Kiran Kumar has said. The huge size of the antenna gives it more power, which ensures that a two-way exchange of data, voice or video, can be carried out through small hand-held devices from any corner of the country.

The hand-held devices are still being fine-tuned by the Defence Research and Development Organisation or DRDO, which is looking to make a number of such devices for security personnel deployed in remote areas.

The powerful, home-made communications satellite lifted off on the back of the heavyweight GSLV rocket from Sriharikota's Satish Dhawan Space Centre. The rocket also had a special feature -- a new engine that will also be crucial for India's second Moon mission.

The last time ISRO saw failure was on August 31, 2017, when the PSLV failed to place the IRNSS-1H satellite into its intended orbit because the payload fairing or the heat shield failed to separate from the satellite bay.

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