— ANI (@ANI_news) May 5, 2017
India on Friday launched the South Asia Satellite, built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), that will at once boost its “neighbourhood first policy” as well as help it carve a unique place for itself in space diplomacy by becoming the rare example of a country to “gift” a satellite to its neighbours. The South Asia Satellite is a geosynchronous communications and meteorology satellite developed by ISRO for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc). Initially, it was to be named “Saarc Satellite” but its name was changed to South Asia Satellite after Pakistan refused to join the project.
Successful launch of South Asian Satellite is a historic moment. It opens up new horizons of engagement. — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 5, 2017
ISRO’s GSLV-F09 rocket carrying the India’s GSAT-9, lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, a barrier island off the Bay of Bengal coast located in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the ISRO scientists after the successful launch. “I congratulate the team of scientists who worked hard for the successful launch of South Asia Satellite. We are very proud of them. The historic occasion has been made better with a surprise- we have leaders of South Asian nations joining us in celebrating this launch,” Modi tweeted. Leaders from all the six participating countries joined in via video conference to address the press.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina congratulates on the successful launch, says launching this satellite has changed the face of South Asia.
According to external affairs ministry spokesman Gopal Baglay, the launch of the Rs235-crore satellite is a dimension of the “sabka saath, sabka vikaas” (collective effort, inclusive growth) concept espoused by Modi.
The benefits of the satellite will be in the areas of mapping of natural resources, tele-medicine, education, IT connectivity and people-to-people links. According to news reports, the satellite will provide a significant capability to each of the participating countries in terms of DTH (direct-to-home), besides linking among the countries for disaster information transfer.
Each South Asian country will get access to one transponder through which they could beam their own programming and there could be common “South Asian programming” as well, news reports said. But each country will have to develop its own ground infrastructure, though India is willing to extend assistance and know-how.
Modi had first proposed the idea of a Saarc Satellite while speaking to ISRO scientists in June 2014 and later broached the idea to member states during his speech at the 18th Saarc summit in Kathmandu in November 2014.