India’s communication satellite GSAT-18 was launched successfully by the European Ariane 5 VA-231 launch Vehicle. The 3404 kg GSAT-18 carries 48 communication transponders in C-band, upper extended C-band and Ku-band for providing various services to the country.
After a smooth countdown, the Ariane 5 launch vehicle lifted off right on schedule. After a flight of 32 minutes and 28 seconds, GSAT-18 separated from the Ariane 5 upper stage in an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 251.7 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 35,888 km, inclined at an angle of 6 degree to the equator.
ISRO's Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka took over the command and control of GSAT-18 immediately after its separation from the launch vehicle. Preliminary health checks of the satellite revealed its normal health.
In the coming days, orbit raising manoeuvres will be performed to place GSAT-18 satellite in the Geostationary Orbit (36,000 km above the equator) by using the satellite’s propulsion system in steps.
After the completion of orbit raising operations, the two solar arrays and both the antenna reflectors of GSAT-18 will be deployed. Following this, the satellite will be put in its final orbital configuration. GSAT-18 will be positioned at 74 deg East longitude in the geostationary orbit and will be co-located with the Indian operational geostationary satellites. Later, it is planned to experimentally turn on the communication payloads of GSAT-18. After the successful completion of all the in-orbit tests, GSAT-18 will be ready for operational use. – Broadcast and Cablesat Bureau