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ISRO launched the South Asia Satellite or GSAT-9, intended to address the region’s “economic and developmental priorities”. The rocket with the satellite was blasted off from the Sriharikota spaceport on Friday evening.

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ISRO South Asian Communication Satellite

The 49 metre-tall, 415 tonne rocket will sling into orbit, the 2,230kg South Asia Satellite, intended as an ‘Indian Gift’ for use by its fellow South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations with a lifespan of over 12 years. This doesn’t include Pakistan, which had opted out, stating “it has its own space programme.

Costing around Rs. 235 crores, the satellite was initially known as the SAARC satellite but with Pakistan deciding to keep out, it is now called the South Asia Satellite.

“Natural resources mapping, telemedicine, the field of education, deeper IT connectivity or fostering people-to-people contact, this satellite will prove to be a boon in the progress of the entire region.

“It is an important step by India to enhance cooperation with the entire South Asia…It is an invaluable gift. This is an appropriate example of our commitment towards South Asia. I welcome all the South Asian countries who have joined us on this momentous endeavour,” he had said.

According to an official, the ISRO on an experimental basis decided to have electric power for the satellite.

“We have not reduced the volume of the traditional on-board fuel because of the electric power. We have added electric power facility to check its performance for use in future satellites,” the official told IANS.

He said the next satellite with electric power will be the GSAT-20 slated for launch in 2018.

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