Sriharikota: Scripting yet another success in its space programme, India on Friday launched its latest communication satellite GSAT-12 onboard indigenous PSLV-C17 rocket in a flawless mission from the spaceport here.

PSLV-C17, using the most powerful configuration of ISRO's workhorse launch vehicle, blasted off at 4.48 pm from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre and zoomed into overcast skies before hurling GSAT-12 into space about 20 minutes later.

GSAT-12 would augment the availability of transponders for various communication services including tele-medicine and tele-education.

With Friday's GSAT-12, India will have 175 transponders, but it would still be way behind the target of 500 by 2012 set by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to meet the booming demand in telecom, direct-to-home and V-SAT operations.

"I am extremely happy to state that the PSVL-C17/GSAT12 mission is successful. The launch vehicle injected the satellite very precisely into the intended orbit," a jubilant ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan announced amid applause by the scientists at the mission control centre.

ISRO officials said all the parameters of the GSAT-12 were healthy. Radhakrishnan said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has extended his warm congratulations to the ISRO team on the successful launch.

He said in the coming months ISRO would undertake a series of PSLV missions for launching several satellites.

GSAT-12 would cater to tele-medicine and tele-education services and 'more importantly' provide support for disaster management, the ISRO chief said.

For ISRO, this is the third successful mission this year after GSAT-8 which was put into orbit by Ariane-5 rocket from Kourou in French Guyana in South America on May 21 and Resourcesat-2 onboard PSLV C-16 from here on April 25.

The 1,410 kg GSAT-12, with an eight-year mission life, was injected into an elliptical Transfer Orbit of 284 km perigee (closest point to Earth) and 21,000 km apogee (farthest point to Earth). In a subsequent manoeuvre, the onboard Liquid Apogee Motor would be fired to place it in a circular orbit.

The PSLV-XL configuration used for Friday’s mission is similar to the one that launched India's maiden Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission in 2008.

ISRO relied on its time-tested versatile PSLV rocket in the wake of failures of two GSLV flights in April and December 2010 that dealt a blow to the missions to place GSAT-5 and GSAT-5P into orbit adding to the transponder crunch.

Launch of GSAT-12, equipped with 12 Extended C-band transponders, would partly meet the country's growing demand for transponders in a short turnaround time.

Hit by the huge shortage of transponders, ISRO has been toying with the idea of hiring a foreign satellite for couple of years and acquiring more foreign transponders on lease.

ISRO presently has 175 transponders in a mix of C, Extended-C, Ku and S bands and has taken on lease 86 foreign transponders but faced a huge order book position.

As against the goal of taking the total transponder capacity to 500 by next year from 211 in 2007 at the start of the 11th Plan, ISRO now has only 175 transponders due to a combination of unsuccessful missions, premature terminations and some satellites in their last phase of their mission life.

ISRO sources said the required demand now is about 200 transponders and it is exploring stop-gap alternatives till its own satellites in the pipeline are launched.

ISRO is facing orders from users such as DTH  broadcasters and VSAT operators, apart from growing demand for applications such as disaster management support.

Friday's launch was witnessed among others by Union Minister of State in the PMO V Narayanasamy, Chhattisgarh Governor Shekar Dutt and scientists M G K Menon and U R Rao.

(Agencies)

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