India embarking on novel Space Diplomacy in South Asia
The following is an excerpt of the article that appeared on Zee News India's website.
India is carving a very unique place in the universe, this week New Delhi will 'gift' a heavyweight bird in the sky to its neighbours through the 'South Asia Satellite'. It seems this 'gift' of a communications satellite for use by neighbours at no cost has no parallels in the space-faring world, all other current regional consortia are commercial for-profit enterprises.
The nearly 50-m-tall rocket that weighs about 412 tons will carry what is now dubbed as the 'South Asia Satellite' or what the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) still prefers to call GSAT-9. The 2230-kg satellite has been fabricated in three years and is purely a communications satellite costing Rs 235 crore.
The uniqueness of this satellite is that it will have a footprint that extends all over South Asia and India is gifting this heavenly messenger to its neighbours who according to India's assessment could be helped in better utilising these space based technologies.
The South Asia Satellite has 12 Ku band transponders which India's neighbours can utilise to increase communications. Each country will get access to at least one transponder through which they could beam their own programming and there could be common 'south Asian programing' as well.
Each country has to develop its own ground infrastructure though India is willing to extend assistance and know-how. According to the government. The satellite will "enable a full range of applications and services to our neighbours in the areas of telecommunication and broadcasting applications viz. Television, direct-to-home (DTH), very small aperture terminals (VSATs), tele-education, telemedicine and disaster management support".
The satellite also has the capability to provide secure hot lines among the participating nations in addition since the region is highly prone to earthquakes, cyclones, floods, tsunamis.