In a meeting of the Launch Authorization Board (LAB) on July 12, 2011, that was held to decide the fate of PSLV-C17/GSAT-12 mission, it was decided that the mission would indeed take to the skies today. Even as I write this, final checks on the satellite are being done. At about 4: 48 pm (IST), the GSAT-12, ISRO’s debut attempt at launching a pure communications satellite will take place, from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

The PSLV-C17/GSAT-12

The PSLV-C17/GSAT-12

The 53-hour countdown began on the 13th of July, 2011 at 11:48 am, and tasks like propellant-filling operations of the liquid propellant second stage (PS2) and fourth stage (PS4) would have taken place. Among other tests that the researchers will carry out as a part of a routine process include, charging of batteries and pressurization of the propellant tanks. The PSLV launch vehicle will place the GSAT-12 satellite in a geosynchronous transfer orbit, and then the Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) will give it the thrust to go to circular geostationary orbit.

These satellites are being readied in order to make up for the nation’s swelling satellite requirements. Initially done using foreign launch vehicles, the space centre decided to manufacture their vehicles at home to avoid such large scale dependency. However, it has been a difficult ride for ISRO. If successful, GSAT-12 will break ISRO’s four- year long seemingly jinxed fate with communication satellites. GSAT’s last, successful launch was in 2004.

GSAT-12 is also being sent as the replacement to INSAT-3B, which is nearing the end of its 14-year long mission life, and will give company to INSAT-4A and INSAT-2E.

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