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ISRO developing new satellite for rural net connectivity


ISRO Chief G Madhavan Nair. File photo

BANGALORE (PTI): India is developing an “unconventional” satellite which would focus on providing internet connectivity to rural areas and render timely advice on various aspects of agriculture.

“It's a fast-track spacecraft for rural connectivity,” Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), G Madhavan Nair said here.

“You know, if you take the country, even today more than 30,000 villages don't have proper (internet) connectivity. (With) conventional type of satellites, we cannot meet that requirement.

“So, we have to go for spot beams, high bandwidth type of capacity to be built up. So, that only can make things happen,” he said.

Primarily aimed at rural areas, it will be an INSAT-class (three tonne) satellite but the speciality would be that instead of having an all-India beam, it would have spot beams covering different parts of the country, and there would be a control hub by which it would be connected to national network.

A spot beam is a satellite signal that is specially concentrated in power (i.e. send by a high-gain antenna) so that it will cover only a limited geographic area on earth. Spot beams are used so that only earth stations in a particular intended reception area can properly receive the satellite signal.

On the satellite's applications, Nair, also the Secretary in the Department of Space, said, “Communication has to be established. Then, agricultural advices which need to be given to farmers in various aspects...That would be provided through that (the satellite).”

The spacecraft would be launched by European space consortium, Arianespace, within two years, he added.

On the satellite-based navigation system for the civil aviation sector called GAGAN (GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation) being implemented by ISRO and the Airports Authority of India (AAI), Nair said the first phase has been successfully completed. “The results are extremely good. We were able to get the accuracies of the order of a few metres, which is sufficient for landing and things like that,” he said.

"Now, (in) the operational phase, we have to establish a number of (reference) stations more. That I think AAI has already submitted a report and the Cabinet has cleared that....Around Rs 500 crore investment, and we will be starting the work for that. In about two years, that system should be in place," he said.

The space segment of GAGAN is in the form of an electronic device that works on two frequencies and is well matched with Global Positioning System.

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