Satellites

Insat 3E to finally take off on 27 September

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MUMBAI: The much delayed launch of India's next generation communication satellite Insat 3E will finally see the light of day on 27 September. Arianespace, the launch service provider, has set the evening of 27 September for the liftoff of Flight 162 with a trio of spacecraft passengers.

After delays due to ISRO's 'desire to perform additional final checks on its satellite', according to the agency, the launch campaign resumed 17 September at Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. As part of the renewed activity, the European Space Agency's SMART-1 lunar exploration spacecraft was installed atop its Ariane 5 inside the final assembly building.

The payload stack for Flight 162 will be arranged with Smart-1 in the lower position, followed by Eutelsat's e-Bird broadband services spacecraft in the middle and the Indian Insat-3E telecom/video broadcast satellite in the upper slot. Flight 162 is now scheduled to lift off during a 19-minute launch window that opens at 8:02 p.m. local Kourou time (23h02 GMT, 1:02 am in Paris and 4:32 am in Bangalore, India).

Flight 162 will use a standard Ariane 5G launch vehicle, and it will mark Arianespace's third flight with the versatile launcher in 2003.

Isro, the Indian space research organisation that developed Insat 3E, had said last month that it was forced to postpone the launch date because officials found that a batch containing 'faulty' units of critical imported components was being used in Insat-3E. The faulty components called solid-state power amplifiers (SSPAs), are the core of a satellite transponder. They were obtained from Japanese major Mitsubishi Electric Corporation about two years ago. The satellite has used 36 SSPAs in all, of which some had to be replaced and some repaired.

The launch of the 2,750 kg satellite was delayed twice since the start of the year; it was originally scheduled for take off on 28 August from European rocket launcher Ariane 5G but was put off till 3 September to carry out additional verifications on the payload.

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