India's heaviest satellite GSAT-11 launched by Ariane 5 mission from French Guiana

Arianespace's Ariane 5 taking off from the spaceport in French Guiana with India's GSAT-11 and Korea's Geo-Kompsat-2A on board on December 4, 2018 evening local time (early on December 5, 2018 IST). (Photo: Arianespace)
Arianespace's Ariane 5 taking off from the spaceport in French Guiana with India's GSAT-11 and Korea's Geo-Kompsat-2A on board on December 4, 2018 evening local time (early on December 5, 2018 IST). (Photo: Arianespace)
India's largest and heaviest communication satellite GSAT-11 was placed in orbit by Arianespace's Ariane 5 mission which took off from its spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana in the wee hours of today.
GSAT-11 was one of two international satellite payloads on Flight VA 246, the other being Korea's Geo-Kompsat-2A.
"Designated Flight VA246 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, it delivered the ISRO GSAT-11 relay platform for Ku- and Ka-band communications, along with KARI’s Geo-Kompsat-2A – which is to provide meteorological and space weather monitoring data," a press release from Arianespace said.
“I want to express my deepest gratitude to two very special partners since the beginning of their space ambitions: ISRO and KARI,” said Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël in post-launch comments from the spaceport.
Israël noted that GSAT-11 was the 22nd ISRO satellite orbited by Arianespace and Ariane-series launchers, tracing the relationship back to India’s APPLE small experimental communications spacecraft, which had a liftoff mass of 670-kg. and was lofted in 1981 by an Ariane 1 version. 
On today’s Ariane 5 mission, GSAT-11 weighed in at 5,854.6 kg. – the largest and heaviest satellite ever built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), he said.
Deployed first during Ariane 5’s 33-minute mission to geostationary transfer orbit, GSAT-11 will be positioned at 74 degrees East, providing communications services in Ku- and Ka-bands in both forward and return links. The satellite was designed and manufactured by ISRO, with its multi-spot beam coverage over the Indian mainland and nearby islands to bring significant advantages to users when compared with existing India’s INSAT/GSAT satellite systems. GSAT-11’s design lifetime is more than 15 years.
With its new system architecture and cutting-edge technology elements, GSAT-11 will generate a capacity of more than 12 Gbps for users from a single platform.
Geo-Kompsat-2A was carried in Ariane 5’s lower payload position and released second in the sequence for Flight VA246. Developed by KARI at its South Korean facility in Daejeon, this 3,507.2-kg. satellite will deliver meteorological and space weather monitoring from an orbital position of 128.2 degrees East as part of a Korean government national program.
Top ISRO officials were present in Kourou for the launch of GSAT-11, which is part of the space agency's new family of high-throughput satellites (HTS) that will, among other things, enable the provision of high-speed broadband services to new areas.
According to ISRO sources, the launch vehicle carrying India's most advanced high throughput communication satellite lifted off from the spaceport at Kourou at 0207 hours IST.
After a 30-minute flight, GSAT-11 separated from the Ariane 5 upper stage in an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit.  The achieved orbit was very close to the intended one.
The satellite will provide high data rate connectivity to users of Indian mainland and islands through 32 user beams in Ku-band and 8 hub beams in Ka-band, they said.
“GSAT-11 will boost the broadband connectivity to rural and inaccessible Gram Panchayats in the country coming under the Bharat Net Project, which is part of Digital India Programme,” ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan said.
The Bharat Net Project aims to enhance the public welfare schemes like e-banking, e-health, e-governance among others.
He said GSAT-11 will act as a forerunner to all future high throughput communication satellites. “Today’s successful mission has boosted the confidence of the entire team,” Dr Sivan added.
Post-separation, ISRO's Master Control Facility at Hassan in Karnataka took over the command and control of GSAT-11 and found its health parameters normal.
The scientists will undertake phase-wise orbit-raising manoeuvres in the days ahead to place the satellite in the Geostationary Orbit (36,000 km above the equator) using its on-board propulsion systems. GSAT-11 will be positioned at 74-degree east longitude in the geostationary orbit.
Subsequently, the two solar arrays and four antenna reflectors of GSAT-11 will be deployed in orbit.  The satellite will be operational after the successful completion of all in-orbit tests.
In the last 21 days, ISRO successfully completed three satellite and two launch vehicle missions.
GSAT-11 was originally scheduled for launch by Arianespace's Flight VA243, scheduled for May 25 from Kourou, but it was delayed after ISRO decided in late April to carry out additional technical checks.
The satellite had already reached Kourou at the end of March for the flight and was transported back to India for the additional checks.

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