India's GSAT-31 reaches French Guiana for February 5 launch

India's communication satellite GSAT-31 being unloaded from an Antonov An-124 cargo jetliner after arriving in French Guiana. Photo: Arianespace.
India's communication satellite GSAT-31 being unloaded from an Antonov An-124 cargo jetliner after arriving in French Guiana. Photo: Arianespace.
India's communication satelite GSAT-31 has reached French Guiana, from where it is slated to be launched into orbit by Arianespace's Ariane 5 Flight VA247 from the spaceport at Kourou on February 5.
The Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1/Hellas Sat 4 (HS-4/SGS-1), which reached Kourou a few days ago, will be its co-passenger on the flight, a press release from Arianespace said.
GSAT-31 was flown to South America aboard an Antonov An-124 cargo jetliner, which landed at Félix Eboué Airport near the French Guiana capital city of Cayenne. After the unloading process, the protective container with GSAT-31 was readied for transportation by road to the spaceport to begin payload processing. 
"Designated Flight VA247 in Arianespace’s numbering system, the year-opening Ariane 5 flight will lift off on February 5 – kicking off a fast-paced operational schedule that will include up to 12 missions using the company’s launcher family, with the heavy-lift Ariane 5 joined by the medium Soyuz and lightweight Vega," the release said.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had signed an agreement in September, 2018 for the lauunch of the GSAT-31 and GSAT-30 satellites on separate Ariane 5s from the Guiana Space Centre.
Both satellites will be designed, assembled and integrated by ISRO. They are planned as replacement satellites for the currently operational satellites providing key national services in multiple frequency bands including C- and Ku Bands.
GSAT-31 will be based on an enhanced I-2K platform, to be stationed in geostationary orbit at a longitude of 48° East. It will weigh 2,500 to 2,600 kg. at launch. Providing communications to India, it will replace Insat 4CR, whose end of life is soon expected.
As for GSAT-30, it will be based on an I-3K platform, will weigh 3,450 kg. at launch and ensure continuity of service for INSAT 4A, positioned at 83° East longitude. It will provide high-quality television, telecommunications and broadcasting services.
Commenting on this contract, Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël had said in September: “Arianespace is delighted that ISRO has entrusted Ariane 5 with two new GEO satellites to deliver: GSAT-31 and GSAT-30, to be the 23rd and 24th ISRO satellites launched by Arianespace since our first joint success with APPLE in 1981. This contract underlines the availability of Arianespace launchers and proves to be another great demonstration of the strong bond uniting India and Europe in space cooperation for a better life on Earth.”

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