Indian space lab loses contact with satellite

NEW DELHI • India's national space agency has lost contact with a satellite, days after it was launched into orbit with much fanfare, the authorities said yesterday.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) lost communication with the GSAT-6A satellite as it prepared to undertake its third and final orbiting manoeuvre last Saturday. "Efforts are underway to establish the link with the satellite," Isro said in a statement.

The satellite - an indigenous model weighing over 2,000kg - was designed to improve communications for the armed forces. It was launched from the state of Andhra Pradesh last Thursday.

The space programme is a source of much pride in India and an achievement that highlights its emergence as a rising power and major world economy.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed Thursday's launch, saying he was "proud of @isro for taking the nation towards new heights and a brighter future".

The launch was seen as another feather in the cap for Isro scientists, who won Asia's race to Mars in 2014 when their spacecraft reached the Red Planet on a shoestring budget.

That feat burnished India's reputation as a reliable low-cost option for space exploration, with its US$73 million (S$95 million) price tag undercutting Nasa's Maven Mars US$671-million mission.

In February last year India put a record 104 satellites into orbit from a single rocket, surpassing Russia which launched 39 satellites in one mission in June 2014.

But the Indian space programme has also been blighted by failures, most recently last August, when a mission to launch a backup navigation satellite suffered a major technical glitch.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


Correction note: An earlier version of this story said the satellite weighs over 2,000 tonnes. That is incorrect. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2018, with the headline 'Indian space lab loses contact with satellite'. Print Edition | Subscribe