India successfully launched its latest communication satellite GSAT-31 from the Spaceport at Kourou Launch Base in French Guiana in the early hours of Wednesday. Ariane 5 VA-247, the launch vehicle of European launch services provider Arianespace, lifted off at 2:31 am (IST) carrying India’s GSAT-31 and Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1/Hellas Sat 4 satellites, as scheduled.

After a 42-min flight, GSAT-31 separated from the Ariane 5 upper stage in an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 250 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 35,850 km, inclined at an angle of 3.0 degree to the equator, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.

“It gives me great pleasure on the successful launch of GSAT-31 spacecraft on board Ariane-5,” ISRO’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) Director S Pandian said at Kourou after the launch.

“Congratulation to Arianespace on the successful launch and precise injection of satellite into the orbit,” he added.

Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël tweeted: “2019 is off to a roaring start for #Arianespace! Flight #VA247, carrying Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1/Hellas Sat 4 and GSAT-31, is a confirmed success that underscores our leadership position in the geostationary launch market. @KACST #HellasSat @ISRO @LockheedMartin.”

GSAT-31 draws its heritage from INSAT/GSAT satellite series launched by ISRO in the past.

With a lift-off mass of 2536 kg, GSAT-31 will augment the Ku-band transponder capacity in Geostationary Orbit, and provide continuity to operational services on some of the in-orbit satellites.

“GSAT-31 has a unique configuration of providing flexible frequency segments and flexible coverage. The satellite will provide communication services to Indian mainland and islands” ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan said.

He added: “GSAT-31 will provide DTH Television Services, connectivity to VSATs for ATM, Stock-exchange, Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) and e-governance applications. The satellite will also be used for bulk data transfer for a host of emerging telecommunication applications.”

After separation from Ariane-5 upper stage, an ISRO statement said, the two solar arrays of GSAT-31 were automatically deployed in quick succession. ISRO’s Master Control Facility at Hassan in Karnataka has taken over the command and control of GSAT-31 and found its health parameters normal.

Scientists will now undertake phase-wise orbit-raising manoeuvres to place the satellite in Geostationary Orbit (36,000 km above the equator).

The antenna reflector of GSAT-31 will be deployed during the final stages of its orbit raising operations, after which the satellite will be put in its final orbital configuration. The satellite will be operational after the successful completion of all in-orbit tests.

Arianespace will soon launch GSAT-30, another geostationary satellite for ISRO.

“Soon we will be getting back to French Guiana some time in June, July to launch GSAT-30,” Pandian said.