South Asia Satellite
GSAT-9 Deployed.png
Mission typeCommunications / Meteorology
COSPAR ID2017-024A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.42695
Mission durationPlanned: 12 years[1]
Elapsed: 5 years, 4 months, 25 days
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerISRO Satellite Centre
Space Applications Centre
Launch mass2,230 kg (4,916 lb)[1]
Dry mass976 kg (2,152 lb)[1]
Dimensions1.53 × 1.65 × 2.40 m (5.0 × 5.4 × 7.9 ft)[1]
Power3,500 watts[1]
Start of mission
Launch date5 May 2017, 11:27 (2017-05-05UTC11:27) UTC[2]
RocketGSLV Mk II-F09[1]
Launch siteSatish Dhawan SLP
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
Longitude48° E
Perigee altitude35,769 km (22,226 mi)
Apogee altitude35,802 km (22,246 mi)
Epoch5 June 2017, 17:02:43 UTC[3]
Band12 × Ku band
Coverage areaSAARC
← GSAT-18
GSAT-19 →

The South Asia Satellite (designated GSAT-9), formerly known as SAARC Satellite, is a geostationary[4] communications and meteorology satellite operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region.[5] The satellite was launched on 5 May 2017. During the 18th SAARC summit held in Nepal in 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi mooted the idea of a satellite serving the needs of SAARC member nations[6][7] as a part of his neighbourhood first policy.[8] Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka are the users of the multi-dimensional facilities provided by the satellite.

Pakistan "offered technical and monetary support"[9] which India rejected saying that it wanted the project to be a "gift" and multi-national collaboration would be time-consuming.[10] Pakistan later on declined to participate in the project citing India's refusal to collaboration and security reasons.[11][12] Afghanistan too was initially non-committal to the satellite[13] which led to renaming of satellite from "SAARC Satellite" to "South Asia Satellite." As of 2019 with exception of Pakistan, the satellite is in service with all SAARC countries.

The South Asia Satellite provides crucial information on tele-medicine, tele-education, banking and television broadcasting opportunities. It is also equipped with remote sensing state of the art technology which enables collection of real-time weather data and helps in observations of the geology of the South Asian nations.[14]


During the Indian general elections campaign in 2014, Prime Minister Modi hinted that his foreign policy will actively focus on improving ties with India's immediate neighbours which is being termed as Neighbourhood first policy in the Indian media.[15][16] Modi invited all heads of state/heads of government of SAARC countries during his swearing-in ceremony as Prime Minister of India and held bilateral talks with all of them individually, which was dubbed a "mini SAARC summit" by the media.[17] India is only South Asian nation with orbital launch capability and builds and operates one of largest fleet of artificial satellites in world.[18][19] Modi said, "There is a lot of poverty in the SAARC nations and we need scientific solutions for this".[7]

In his address to the Sri Lankan Parliament in March 2015, Narendra Modi said "Sri Lanka will take full benefit of India's satellite for the SAARC Region. This should be in Space by December 2016".[18]

Response from SAARC nations

The announcement of the satellite was generally met with favourable views by the SAARC nations that supported the program, specifically from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.[20]

South-Asia Satellite coverage
South-Asia Satellite coverage


Pakistan maintains its own space program under its Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), which has launched satellites on Chinese satellite launch vehicles in the past.[18][20][10][21]

Pakistan initially declared that it was "keen" to participate on the project, offering monetary and technical support.[10] However, Pakistan said it did not because "India was not willing to develop the project on a collaborative basis."[22] Pakistan also stated it was working on its own satellite under its existing space commitments, thus declined to join the project.[9] The Indian government declined Pakistani offers of technical and monetary help because it wanted the project to be an Indian "gift" and did not want to make it into a "SAARC project", and that collaborations with Pakistan would have taken some time.[10] Earlier on 27 June 2015, ISRO chairman A. S. Kiran Kumar had announced that India and Pakistan would collaborate on developing the SAARC satellite with SUPARCO performing technical engineering under ISRO's guidance.[23]

During the 70th UN meeting in New York City held on 20 September 2015, officials from India and Pakistan debated over the ownership and control of the satellite.[24] On 2 October 2015, India announced that it had decided to go ahead with building the satellite, without Pakistan's consent.[24] On 23 March 2016, Vikas Swarup, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs of India said "Pakistan has decided to opt-out of the satellite project. So it cannot be called a SAARC satellite. It will be a South Asia satellite."[25]

There were some reports that Pakistan had security concerns, especially regarding espionage.[26] However, the Pakistani foreign ministry said these reports were "unfounded".[22]


On 23 March 2017, Bangladesh signed the South Asia Satellite agreement with India. The agreement formally known as "Agreement between the Government of Republic of India and the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh concerning to orbit frequency co-ordination of 'South Asia Satellite' proposed at 48.E" would cover 12 transponders of the satellite from which, 1 will be gifted to Bangladesh.[27][28]

Bangladesh has launched its first satellite Bangabandhu-1 on 12 May 2018. Citing the capacity of Thales Alenia Space manufactured Bangabandhu-1 satellite, the Chairman of Bangladesh Communication Satellite Company Limited (BSCL) Dr. Shahjahan Mahmood said, "Our own satellite can be used for commercial purposes and we can also sell its capacity to other countries while South Asia Satellite will be used only for limited purposes and its capacity will never be sold."[29]


In November 2018, Bhutan announced that it is on track to begin using South Asia Satellite by the end of November 2018. Planned utilisation of allotted Ku-band transponder includes connecting three off-grid blocks in remote areas of the country, national TV broadcast, emergency communications and backup for domestic/international voice connectivity.[30]


In November 2015, ISRO chairman A. S. Kiran Kumar stated that the satellite could be launched within 18 months of receiving approval from the SAARC member nations.[14][31] It was proposed to build a satellite for the SAARC region with 12 Ku-band transponders (36 MHz each)[27] and launch it with the Indian GSLV Mk-II. The cost of the satellite was estimated to be about 235 crore (equivalent to 280 crore or US$35 million in 2020), and the total cost including operational costs and insurance comes to 450 crore (equivalent to 536 crore or US$67 million in 2020).[32] The cost associated with the launch was met by the Government of India.

The satellite will enable a full range of applications and services in the areas of telecommunication and broadcasting applications viz television (TV), direct-to-home (DTH), very small aperture terminals (VSATs), tele-education, tele-medicine and disaster management support. It will provide communication channels for better coordination during disaster management, and will help countries in mapping terrain and natural resources.[33]

Satellite and payloads

GSAT-9 carries 12 Ku band transponders; each participating South Asian Country has access to a dedicated transponder for their communications.[34]

The standalone satellite has a liftoff mass of about 2,230 kg.[34] GSAT-9 is the first Indian satellite to use electric propulsion albeit partially. It carries only 25% of the normal chemical fuel package compared to other Indian satellites, a xenon based electric propulsion system is used for orbital functions of the spacecraft. GSAT-20 is expected to be the first fully electric propulsion system enabled satellite.[35][36]


The satellite was launched on 5 May 2017 at 11:27 UTC aboard the GSLV-F09 rocket from the Second Launch Pad (SLP) of the Satish Dhawan spaceport in Sriharikota, in the southern part of Andhra Pradesh.[2][37]

Orbit raising and station keeping

The launch was followed by a series of orbit-raising operations (using an on-board LAM and chemical thrusters) to place the satellite in the intended geostationary orbital slot.

Op # Date/
Time (UTC)
LAM burn time Height achieved Inclination
Orbital period References
Apogee Perigee
1 5 May 2017
2643 s 35,873 km (22,290 mi) 5,687 km (3,534 mi) 10.38° 12 h, 22 min [38]
2 7 May 2017
3529.7 s 35,858 km (22,281 mi) 28,608 km (17,776 mi) 0.755° 20 h, 58 min [39]
3 8 May 2017
445.8 s 35,809 km (22,251 mi) 35,776.8 km (22,230.7 mi) 0.0° 23 h, 56 min, 6 s [40]


Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena congratulated Modi using satellite technology and claimed that it would help uplift the standards of people.[41]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "GSLV-F09 / GSAT-9 Mission" (PDF). Indian Space Research Organisation.
  2. ^ a b Richardson, Derek (5 May 2017). "India sends GSAT-9 into orbit atop GSLV". Spaceflight Insider. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  3. ^ "GSAT-9 - Orbit". Heavens-Above. 5 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  4. ^ "GSAT-9". Indian Space Research Organisation. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  5. ^ "Isro-Saarc satellite to be a communication vehicle". Deccan Herald. Deccan Herald News Service. 12 January 2015. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  6. ^ "Isro Says Saarc Satellite Configuration Will Be Finalised Soon". NDTV. Indo Asian News Service. 30 March 2015. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  7. ^ a b "'Space diplomacy' in South Asia". BBC News. 1 July 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  8. ^ "India's SAARC satellite proposal: a boost to a multilateral space agenda". The Space Review. 18 August 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  9. ^ a b "India calls satellite 'gift to South Asia', Pakistan says no thanks". Dawn. 5 May 2017. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d "India rejects Pakistan's help in SAARC satellite project". The Times of India. Press Trust of India. 1 July 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  11. ^ "Pakistan raises security issues to oppose SAARC satellite project". The Economic Times. 26 January 2015.
  12. ^ "Soutg Asia Satellite (GSAT-9) launch: Pakistan blames India for "pull out" from project". The Financial Express. 6 May 2017.
  13. ^ "After Pakistan, Afghanistan shows no interest in PM Narendra Modi's satellite project". The Economic Times. Press Trust of India. 15 May 2016.
  14. ^ a b "SAARC Satellite Likely to be Launched Next Year, Pakistan Agrees to Participate". NDTV. Indo Asian News Service. 23 June 2015.
  15. ^ Ramachandran, Rajesh (3 July 2014). "Narendra Modi's push for strong relations with neighbours". The Economic Times. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  16. ^ "India, Modi and the neighbourhood". Gateway House. 25 August 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  17. ^ "The mini SAARC summit". The Sunday Times. 1 June 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  18. ^ a b c "India's satellite 'gift' for SAARC to be up in Dec 2016". Business Standard. 13 March 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  19. ^ "Modi asks Indian space scientists to develop Saarc satellite". The Times of India. 1 July 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
  20. ^ a b "Pakistan cool to SAARC satellite project". The Hindu. Press Trust of India. 7 June 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  21. ^ Jyoti, Dhrubo (16 February 2017). "Pakistan began space programme 8 years before India, but ISRO is galaxies ahead now". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  22. ^ a b Arora, Medhavi (5 May 2017). "India launches satellite for South Asian countries, Pakistan says no thanks". CNN.
  23. ^ "India, Pakistan will collaborate on developing SAARC satellite under ISRO's guidance, says AS Kiran Kumar". Press Trust of India. 27 June 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  24. ^ a b "India and Pakistan spar over Modi satellite, disaster management in New York". ABP Live. ABP live. 2 October 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  25. ^ "SAARC satellite project: Pakistan decides to opts out, says AS Vikas Swarup". The Indian Express. 23 March 2016. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  26. ^ Chaudhury, Dipanjan Roy (26 June 2015). "Pakistan raises security issues to oppose SAARC satellite project". The Economic Times. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  27. ^ a b Khokon, Sahidul Hasan (23 March 2017). "Bangladesh joins India's South Asia Satellite program". India Today. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  28. ^ "ঢাকায় দক্ষিণ এশিয়া উপগ্রহ চুক্তি সই করল ভারত, বাংলাদেশ". Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  29. ^ "Bangladesh links up with India's South Asia Satellite". The Daily Star. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  30. ^ "Bhutan to begin using GSAT-9 services end-November". Space Tech Asia. 10 November 2018.
  31. ^ "Astrosat to provide opportunities to analyse celestial bodies: ISRO". The Indian Express. 18 November 2015.
  32. ^ "What is South Asia Satellite: India's ₹235-crore gift to neighbours". The Indian Express. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  33. ^ "India's 'priceless gift' South Asia Satellite to be launched on May 5: Prime Minister Narendra Modi". The Indian Express. 30 April 2017.
  34. ^ a b "Satellite Details GSAT-9". SatBeams. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  35. ^ Rajwi, Tiki (30 November 2015). "ISRO to Test Electric Propulsion on Satellites". The New Indian Express.
  36. ^ D. S., Madhumathi (1 May 2017). "GSAT-9 heralds cost-saving electric propulsion". The Hindu.
  37. ^ "GSLV Successfully Launches South Asia Satellite" (Press release). Government of India, Department of Space. 5 May 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  38. ^ "The first orbit raising operation..." Indian Space Research Organisation. 6 May 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  39. ^ "Orbit Determination results..." Indian Space Research Organisation. 7 May 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  40. ^ "The third orbit raising operation..." Indian Space Research Organisation. 8 May 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  41. ^ "Indian satellite would uplift social standard of people-MS". The Daily Mirror. 6 May 2017. Retrieved 6 May 2017.