Ten days after the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched the GSAT-6A communications satellite into space, almost 48 hours after the launch, ISRO lost communication with the GSAT-6A.

Till now, India’s premier space exploration organisation hasn’t been able to re-establish communication with the GSAT-6A, although the exact location of the satellite has now been found and is being tracked in space by ISRO.

Despite confirmation of its location, there is still ambiguity as to when ISRO will get the satellite back online or if it ever will.

If no communication is established, the world (especially Indians) would be interested in knowing the answer to one question: What’s going to happen to the GSAT 6-A?

What Happened to GSAT-6A?

The GSAT-6A was launched on 31 March from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. After successfully completing two firing stages, the satellite was gearing up for the third and the final firing scheduled for 1 April, when ISRO lost communication with it.

The 2,140-kg satellite was to be used to establish satellite-based mobile communication applications for the Indian government and military.

Although, there’s isn’t any certainty on why the connection was severed, many reports suggest that an electrical glitch may have been the cause. The satellite was supposed to go into "safe mode" in the event of a connection break but to ISRO’s horror the feature hasn’t got activated till now.

Thanks to ISRO’s satellite tracking system and other sources, it now knows where the satellite is and also has information that it is moving in the geo transfer orbit at perigee of around 26,000km and apogee of about 33,000km.

ISRO is now hopeful that a connection will be established soon enough.

For How Long Will GSAT-6A Stay in Space?

According to ISRO, the mission life of the spacecraft was planned to be around 10 years. According to reports, the satellite has enough fuel to orbit the Earth for another decade. After the launch it was observed that the GSAT-6A was able to deploy its solar panels to start supplying power to itself while in orbit.

ISRO chairman Dr. K Sivan confirmed that the satellite has power as its solar panels are fully deployed and is getting recharged.

As the GSAT-6A has been found to be in the geo transfer orbit, it might pass over India every 90 minutes at a speed of 28,000 kilometres per hour (the average speed at which a satellite orbits the Earth).

Big Bucks Lost

The loss of the satellite could take a heavy toll on ISRO’s pockets. According to the Bangalore-headquartered organisation, the total cost of the 2-tonne satellite is Rs 270 crore.

It was launched to partner with the GSAT-6, which was launched back in 2015. Apart from aiding communication for the government and military, it was also going to improve mobile communications in India, especially in remote areas.

However, the damage could have been way worse.

Earlier, the satellite had a deal of $300 million dollars riding on it, which was made between ISRO’s commercial arm Antrix Corporation and Bengaluru-based Devas Multimedia Ltd. The deal would have allowed Devas to use 90 percent of the GSAT-6 and 6A’s transponders for digital multimedia services.

However, the deal didn’t come through and the satellites were to be prioritised for defence and strategic purposes. Lucky for Devas!

Will It Crash Back Into The Earth If Connection Cannot Be Re-Established?

Just a few days ago, China’s space agency had confirmed that some parts of it’s Tiangong-1 space station had plummeted into the Pacific ocean. The agency had lost contact with the space station in 2016.

But, can the Indian GSAT be considered the next Tiangong? It’s too early to call this. Remember, it still has enough power to stay up in space for the next 10 years.

Till ISRO re-establishes connection with its satellite, the GSAT-6A can be considered space debris floating around the Earth at immense speeds.

BUT, if it does come down to the satellite crashing towards the Earth, be rest assured it will be consumed by the Earth’s atmosphere, which is potent enough to disintegrate space rocks larger than the GSAT-6A.

Moreover, ISRO isn't giving up hope just yet. Especially after finding the satellite orbiting Earth.