Isro to launch Insat-4C replacement by July 2007

MUMBAI: Soon after the failure of the GSLV-F02 launch rocket carrying the Insat-4C communication satellite, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has decided to act fast to meet the growing need for Ku-band transponders from the direct-to-home (DTH) sector.

Isro will be replacing Insat-4C, where Kalanithi Maran's Sun Direct had booked seven high-power Ku-band transponders, with the launch of an identical satellite by July 2007. The satellite, Insat-4C(R), will be launched at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.

Maran will have the option to take transponder space on that satellite for his DTH venture. But if he decides to launch the service earlier, Isro will make provisions on an alternate satellite which could be foreign or Indian. Insat-4B, which is meant for Doordarshan's DTH service DD Direct Plus, is being launched early next year.

"We have the flexibility to accommodate Sun. If there is an early requirement, we can give them space on an Indian or foreign satellite," says Isro contract management and legal services director SB Iyer. For DTH providers who want to operate from foreign satellites, Isro will have to provide the approval and lease it out for them.

Will Insat-4C(R) disturb the scheduling of Isro's other satellite launches? "We plan to launch Insat-4C(R) by July 2007 from Sriharikota. It will have the same number of transponders as Insat-4C. The other satellite launches will be on schedule," says Iyer.

Of the 12 Ku-band transponders Insat-4C would have carried, Sun TV had booked six for DTH and one for DSNG (digital satellite news gathering). While Isro plans to launch Insat-4D in 2006-07, Insat-4E is expected to go up by 2007-08.

Isro had earlier said that the failure of Insat-4C was "a brief setback" which it would correct by recasting its programmes to accelerate the Ku-band capacity growth.

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