Ariane 5 To Launch Two Indian Satellites Next Year

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PARIS — Europe‘s Arianespace launch consortium, continuing its long successful contract relationship with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), will launch two Indian satellites — one for meteorology, one for telecommunications — in mid-2013, Arianespace announced Oct. 17.

The contract announcement came less than three weeks after Europe‘s Ariane 5 ECA rocket placed ISRO’s 3,400-kilogram GSAT-10 telecommunications satellite into geostationary-transfer orbit.

The two new contracts are for lighter-weight satellites, either of which could fly on the Europeanized version of Russia‘s Soyuz rocket, which from Europe‘s Guiana Space Center in South America can place slightly more than 3,000 kilograms of satellite payload into geostationary-transfer orbit.

But the Soyuz manifest for 2013 is already full, meaning both the GSAT-7 telecommunications satellite and the Insat-3D meteorological satellite will be launched as separate secondary payloads on Ariane 5 ECA rockets carrying heavier telecommunications spacecraft as well.

The 2,500-kilogram GSAT-7 is expected to carry UHF-, S-, C- and Ku-band transponders. The 2,100-kilogram Insat-3D will be equipped with imaging and sounding sensors, a data-relay capability, and a search-and-rescue payload, according to ISRO.

In addition to being a space development agency, ISRO is the provider of India‘s satellite telecommunications bandwidth and the regulator of access to India’s satellite telecommunications market.

Non-Indian satellite fleet operators seeking access to the nation’s still-booming direct-to-home satellite television market have criticized ISRO’s dual role, saying it makes the agency a competitor and regulator at the same time.

ISRO said that, as of late August, it was providing 168 transponders of satellite bandwidth, generally measured in 36-megahertz-equivalents per transponder, on nine satellites in geostationary orbit.

GSAT-10, once it begins operations, will add 30 transponders in Ku-, C- and extended-C-band.

ISRO said non-Indian satellite operators were providing 94 transponders worth of capacity into the Indian market.