Bridging digital divide

AuthorPublished: 7th Dec 2018  12:12 amUpdated: 6th Dec 2018  8:46 pm

The successful launch of India’s heaviest and most advanced communication satellite, GSAT-11, from a European spaceport marks a significant milestone in the country’s space technology capabilities and would help in boosting faster internet services over the next 15 years. It is heartening to witness another history of sorts in space technology made by a Hyderabad-based startup, ‘Exseed Space’, whose micro-satellite ExseedSAT1 was put into orbit by Space X Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The micro-satellite, measuring twice the size of a Rubik’s cube, is expected to provide a major boost to private radio operators as it was built with contributions of several Ham operators. Weighing about 5,854 kg, the GSAT-11 was launched from the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou in French Guiana. The large high-throughput satellite (HTS), along with two smaller HTS satellites GSAT-19 and GSAT-29 launched earlier by Isro from Sriharikota, will kick off effective satellite-based broadband services in remote, hitherto uncovered rural areas of the country. No wonder it is described by Isro as the ‘richest space asset’. It is the third in a series of four satellites aimed at achieving the government’s ambitious target to provide high data connectivity of 100 GBPS in the country, broadband connectivity to gram panchayats under the BharatNet project and support high data rate applications for enterprise network and consumer broadband applications. These and a few more upcoming HTS fleet will also innovatively enable the use of superior and efficient Ka (high frequency) band.

The GSAT series of geosynchronous indigenous satellites in S, Ka/Ku (lower frequency) bands made and launched by Isro is aimed at making India self-reliant in digital media services. GSAT 29 and GSAT 11 are key satellites for facilitation of the Digital India programme, bridging the divide between rural and urban India by high-speed bandwidth and advanced telecom and DTH services. This will also be supporting e-Governance by linking of gram panchayats as well as consumer high-speed broadband connectivity. Overcoming the challenging days of technology denials with resilience and perseverance, Isro has come a long way to emerge as one of the key global players in the area of satellite launch capabilities and space exploration research. Today, India is at the high table of the space-faring nations, with its launch capabilities being respected globally. Isro set a new record last year when it successfully launched 104 satellites aboard a single rocket. The international space community has widely acknowledged the stellar role played by India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, launched in 2008. It is credited with discovering the presence of water molecules on the parched lunar surface in 2009. The finding has been a great contribution by India to the understanding of the lunar environment.