European launch services company Arianespace launched India’s latest communication satellite GSAT-31 successfully in the early hours of Wednesday from French Guiana.

The Ariane-5 vehicle put the satellite into the orbit in a flawless flight after taking off from Kourou, a French territory located in northeastern coast of South America, at 2.31 am India time. The flight lasted about 42 minutes.

“It gives me great pleasure on the successful launch of GSAT-31 spacecraft on board Ariane-5,” said S Pandian, the director of Indian Space Research Organisation’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre. “Congratulation to Arianespace on the successful launch and precise injection of satellite into the orbit.”

The GSAT-31 is a “high power” communication satellite with Ku-band, and it is going to serve and replace some of the satellites that are going to expire soon, Pandian said.

“We appreciate the trust from our friends at ISRO, whose satellites were launched on Arianespace’s last Ariane-5 mission of 2018 (GSAT-11) as well as our first in 2019 (GSAT-31),” tweeted the company’s Chief Executive Officer Stephane Israel. “The latter spacecraft is the 23rd payload Ariancespace has orbited for India’s space agency.”

The Ariane-5 vehicle also carried Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1/Hellas Sat 4.

GSAT-31 separated from the launch vehicle in an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit with a perigee – the nearest point to Earth – of 250 km and an apogee – the farthest point from Earth – of 35,850 km, inclined at an angle of 3 degrees to the equator, ISRO said in a press release after the launch.

After the satellite went into orbit, its two solar arrays were automatically deployed in quick succession and ISRO’s Master Control Facility at Hassan in Karnataka took over the command and control of the satellite and found its health parameters normal, the space agency added.

Researchers will undertake phase-wise orbit-raising manoeuvres to place the satellite in geostationary orbit – 36,000 km above the equator – in the coming days using its on-board propulsion system.