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First Indian-built satellite for foreign firm successfully launched
Posted On: Dec 22, 2008
Ariane 5's mission with HOT BIRD 9 and W2M was the launch vehicle's sixth flight in 2008. Arianespace photo
BANGALORE (PTI): India's space commerce got a big boost on Sunday when the first satellite built by ISRO for a foreign customer was successfully put into its intended orbit after it was launched by the European Ariane-5 rocket fetching a profit of 40 million dollars.
The state-of-the-art communications satellite--W2M--built by ISRO on a commercial basis in partnership with EADS-Astrium of Europe was launched at 4.05 AM IST from the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou in French Guiana, the ISRO said.
Thirty-two minutes after its lift-off, W2M separated from Ariane-5, after reaching its intended Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). Building W2M signaled ISRO'S foray into the satellite-manufacturing market.
Weighing 3,463 kg at lift-off, it is the heaviest satellite built by the ISRO and is capable of operating for over 15 years. The spacecraft was built for Eutelsat Communications, which is a global satellite communications provider based in Paris.
Radio signals transmitted by W2M were successfully received by the ISRO's Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka and the satellite's health is normal.
While W2M was built under a USD 80 million (Rs 400 crore) contract by ISRO, officials said it was a good deal for the space agency which made a profit of USD 40 million (Rs 200 crore) in this venture.
"ISRO builds such spacecraft without payloads for less than Rs 200 crore. That way we made a good profit", an ISRO official said.
ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair was present at the Europe's spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana when the W2M spacecraft was launched, along with HOT BIRD satellite built by EADS Astrium, Europe's leading satellite system specialist.
"It (W2M) is comparable to INSAT-4 series. For the first time, we have built a satellite for a foreign customer. So, that's why the launch is important for us", Nair said. W2M project was undertaken in the context of an accord signed during the visit of President of France on February 20, 2006, at New Delhi between Antrix Corporation Ltd., the commercial arm of the India's Department of Space and EADS Astrium to jointly build the satellite.
ISRO spokesperson S Satish said "weighing 3,462 kg at lift-off, W2M is the heaviest spacecraft built by the Indian space agency till date. It was built in 26 months".
Designed for an operational lifetime of 15 years, W2M carries 32 transponders. It will provide both television and radio broadcasting services for Eutelsat. ISRO would also be in-charge of early in-orbit operations of W2M, Satish said.
ISRO built W2M under contracts signed between its marketing arm Antrix and EADS Astrium in February 2006 to provide communication satellites for the international market.
Under the W2M contract, EADS Astrium was the prime contractor in charge of overall programme management and built communication payload. Antrix/ISRO built the satellite bus, integrated and tested the spacecraft.
Nair said ISRO is building another satellite Hylas under the ISRO-EADS Astrium alliance.
Officials said the communication satellite Hylas (Highly Adaptable Satellite) is a hybrid Ka Band/Ku Band satellite with European coverage.
The satellite would be used mainly to provide broadband Internet access and to distribute and broadcast High Definition Television (HDTV).
ISRO is building it for the UK's satellite operator Avanti Screenmedia Group plc
Satish said Hylas is expected to be shipped in March or April.
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