In a first, India’s ISRO to use SpaceX rocket for heavyweight GSAT communications satellite launch

India is set to rocket off on a significant partnership with SpaceX, led by billionaire Elon Musk, signalling the country’s foray into space collaboration with the tech mogul. The joint venture involves launching a high-capacity communications satellite to enhance India’s broadband connectivity, particularly in remote and underserved regions.

NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL), the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), disclosed this collaboration in an official statement on Tuesday. The communication satellite, named GSAT-20, boasts a substantial weight of 4,700 kg, surpassing the current highest spacecraft launching capacity of 4,000 kg by India’s space agency, ISRO. The launch, scheduled for the second quarter of the year, marks a pivotal moment in India’s space exploration efforts. This collaboration marks a significant milestone as GSAT-20 is the second “demand-driven” communications satellite solely funded and operated by NSIL. The first, GSAT-24, took flight in June 2022 and was fully funded by NSIL.

NSIL was announced by the Government of India in June 2020 and was mandated by the government that the organisation would seek to build, launch, own and operate satellites in a “Demand-driven” mode to meet the service needs of the user.

Designed to deliver high-throughput connectivity across India, GSAT-20 utilises a Ka-band payload with an impressive 48 gigabits per second capacity. What makes this launch noteworthy is that GSAT-20 will be the first Indian communications satellite to ride an American rocket in over three years.

Geostationary Satellite (GSAT), is an important line of communication satellites operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). These satellites play a major role in India’s telephone, TV broadcasting, and internet services, which have a crucial impact on the country’s communication setup.

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