Bengaluru, Dec 7: Augmenting India's space capacity to boost communication services, its latest satellite GSAT-16 was successfully launched on board Arianespace rocket from the space port of Kourou in French Guiana in the early hours today, after a delay of two days due to bad weather.
The satellite with a lift-off mass of 3,181 kg was injected into the intended Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) about 32 minutes after a perfect lift-off of Ariane 5 at 2.10 AM on flight VA221, signifying the 221st launch of an Ariane family vehicle from the spaceport.
In the dual rocket mission, GSAT-16 with 48 transponders, the largest-ever carried by a communication satellite built by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), was ejected into space four minutes after its co-passenger DIRECTTV-14 spacecraft, designed to provide direct-to-home television broadcasts across the US, Arianespace said.
Soon after the launch, the Bengaluru-headquartered ISRO's Master Control Facility at Hassan in Karnataka took over the command and control of the GSAT-16 and said initial checks indicated "normal health" of the satellite.
ISRO said the first orbit raising operation is scheduled for tomorrow at around 03:50 AM as part of manoeuvres to place the satellite finally in its designated slot at 55 deg East longitude in the Geostationary orbit and co-located with GSAT-8, IRNSS-1A and IRNSS-1B satellites.
The launch of GSAT-16 was originally scheduled for Friday but was put off hours before the lift-off due to inclement weather at Kourou, which is chosen for its strategic location of being close to the equator that is ideally-suited for missions into the geostationary orbit.
Arianespace rescheduled it for Saturday at 02.09 AM (IST) but within hours that too was postponed, citing "unfavourable weather conditions (high altitude winds" over the launch pad. It was then rescheduled for wee hours of today."... two days we had to wait for this to happen, but it has happened excellently, so congratulations to all people from Arianespace for its excellent performance," ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) Director S K Shivakumar said at the Arianespace facility.