The Indian Space Research Organisation on Sunday said it has lost contact with a communications satellite it launched on March 29. The official statement about the status of the satellite came after two days of no updates from the space agency.
ISRO launched the GSAT-6A satellite into space from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh at 4.56 pm on Thursday. At 9.22 am the next day, ISRO said it had successfully carried out the first orbit-raising manoeuvre of the satellite, NDTV reported. After that, there were no updates from the space agency till Sunday morning.
Orbit-raising manoeuvres put the satellite in its final orbit around the earth. It is done in stages, and the satellite uses small thrusters to propel itself towards its final orbit.
While officials in the know said the second orbit-raising exercise was conducted around 11 am on March 31, the space agency did not release a statement about its success, or of any other manoeuvres, The Times of India reported. ISRO chairman K Sivan is believed to have held a marathon meeting on Saturday, the report said.
Reports initially quoted ISRO officials as saying that the satellite encountered “hitches in communication”, that there was an issue with the power systems, and that scientists were working to correct the anomaly. However, there was no official word from the agency about the status of the satellite.
On Sunday afternoon, ISRO said in an official statement that the second orbit-raising operation of the GSAT-6A satellite was also successful, but that the agency lost communications with the satellite when it was “on course to normal operating configuration for the third and the final firing, scheduled for April 1”, The Times of India reported. The statement said efforts were on to establish the link with the satellite.
The GSAT-6A was launched on the 12th flight of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV-F08, which has a more powerful engine – the kind that would be used for India’s second Moon mission.
The satellite is carrying one of the largest antennas built by ISRO, according to NDTV. The antenna will give the satellite more power to enable two-way communication even through small, hand-held devices from anywhere in India.