Bangalore: India's heavy geo-stationary satellite GSAT-8 lifted off successfully onboard the Ariane-V rocket on Saturday from Kourou in French Guiana, an official from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.

The indigenously built 3.1-tonne (3,100 kg) satellite has 24 high powered Ku-band transponders for direct-to-home (DTH) services by state-run and private broadcasters. Ariane-V of Arianespace belongs to the European Space Agency consortium. 

Thirty minutes after the launch, Ariane will deploy the heavy satellite in a elliptical geo-synchronous transfer orbit (GTO) and the space agency's master control facility (MCF) at Hasan in Karnataka, about 180 km from Bangalore, will take over its command and control. 

The satellite will be gradually put in the 36,000 km geosynchronous orbit over the subsequent days and its antenna and solar panels will be deployed.  The MCF will also test and monitor the health parameters of the payloads by June 1. It will be available for DTH services from next month.  Along with GSAT-8, the space agency has sent the global position system (GPS) aided geo augmented navigation (Gagan) to improve the accuracy of the US' GPS.

PM congratulates Department of Space

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday congratulated the Department of Space for the successful launch of communication satellite GSAT-8, which will give a boost to direct-to-home services in the country.

Singh  rang up Space Secretary K Radhakrishnan at the launch site and conveyed his greetings.

Weighing 3,100 kg at lift-off, GSAT-8 is one of the heaviest and high-powered satellites built by the Bangalore-headquartered Indian Space Research Organisation.

An ISRO team, which witnessed the launch, expressed delight over the successful mission.

"I am extremely happy to announce that ISRO's Master Control Facility at Hassan near Bangalore has confirmed the reception of signals from GSAT-8 and taken charge of the command and control of GSAT-8 immediately after its injection into the geo-stationary transfer orbit," Radhakrishnan said.

(Agencies)