Isro’s commercial arm to launch satellite aboard SpaceX rocket later this year

Space public sector undertaking (PSU) NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), will launch a high-throughput satellite on Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket — Falcon 9 — later this year from the US.

NSIL plans to launch its second demand-driven communications satellite, the GSAT-20 (renamed GSAT-N2), in the second quarter of 2024. It will be a high-throughput Ka-band satellite primarily aimed at meeting India’s growing broadband connectivity needs.

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The satellite has been specifically designed to meet the demanding service needs of remote, unconnected regions, NSIL said in a statement.

NSIL looks for services abroad when the weight of the satellite is higher than the capacity of Indian launch vehicles.

This is the first time that NSIL will launch on the US launcher. It has earlier used services of Arianespace.

“NSIL will fully own, operate and fund the 4,700kg satellite, which can provide up to 48 Gbps of capacity across 32 beams covering all of India including the Andaman, Nicobar, and Lakshadweep Islands,” NSIL said.

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“The bulk of GSAT-20’s high-throughput satellite capacity has already been secured by Indian service providers for broadband services as well as in-flight and maritime connectivity,” it added.“This cost-effective satellite will play a significant role in connecting remote and underserved regions of the country,” it said.

As part of space sector reforms announced by the government in June 2020, NSIL was mandated to build, launch, own and operate satellites in ‘demand-driven mode’ for meeting service needs of the user.

It undertook its first demand-driven satellite mission, GSAT-24 in June 2022, wherein the capacity onboard the satellite was fully secured by TataPlay.

GSAT-24 mission was fully funded by NSIL.

Currently, NSIL owns and operates 11 communication satellites in orbit.