India’s premier space agency Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is set to launch a Bhutanese satellite in December this year. The development of the INS-2B satellite of Bhutan is being underway by four Bhutanese engineers who are being trained by ISRO.

The space engineers from Bhutan’s department of information technology and telecom were trained at ISRO’s UR Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru from December 28 to February 25, 2021. The training covered theoretical and technical aspects and included visits to laboratories and test facilities. With the first phase of the satellite development already done, the second phase of training will focus on finishing touches of the satellite.

Speaking at an event “Space odyssey: Showcasing India’s achievements in space technology”, the Indian Ambassador to Bhutan Ruchira Kamboj said, “Our countries are collaborating to build a satellite. This satellite is going to be launched in 2021 from ISRO’s facilities.”

“It is only natural that these two best friends (countries) are cooperating in this final frontier,” Ruchira Kamboj added.

The event was organised by the Indian embassy in Bhutan as part of India’s 75th year of Independence – ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’.

ISRO’s Scientific Secretary R Umamaheswaran, who was the keynote speaker at the event said, the satellite “will fly hopefully by end of this year in the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) mission. That is what we are planning.”

The Indo-Bhutan Space Cooperation

India and Bhutan have been engaged in space cooperation with a ground Earth station for South Asia Satellite (SAS) that was inaugurated in Thimphu, Bhutan during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in August 2019.

The SAS was launched by India in 2017 as a gift to the countries in the South Asia region, including Bhutan. Under the project, New Delhi has offered increased bandwidth on an additional transponder on the satellite for Bhutan as a gift as per the country’s requirement.

On 28th February 2021, India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C51 successfully launched Amazonia-1 along with 18 co-passenger satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

After a flight of about 17 minutes, the vehicle injected the Amazonia-1 into its intended orbit, and in the succeeding 1 hour 38 minutes other 18 co-passenger satellites were injected in a predetermined sequence.

With this, India scripted history once again, as the total number of customer satellites from foreign countries placed in orbit by PSLV reached 342 from more than 34 countries.