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Jul 15, 2011 at 09:55am IST

ISRO to launch communication satellite GSAT-12

New Delhi: India will launch a new communication satellite at 4:48 pm on Friday evening that will help doctors and teachers in cities diagnose and teach people in rural India via satellite link.

A severe shortage of communication satellites has pushed the Indian Space Research Organisation to launch the GSAT-12 on Friday.

ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan said, "GSAT-12 is a communication satellite. It has twelve transponders in the extended C Band. It is a fast track satellite meant to build up capacity of transponders for Indian users."

The twelve transmitter-receiver modules or transponders on GSAT-12 are for tele-medicine and education. Rural patients will have doctors diagnose them, rural schools will get classes from teachers, all via satellite link.

But communication satellites also drive India's telecom and television revolution. ISRO wanted 500 transponders in the air by 2012, yet today it only has 175. It has leased 86 transponders on foreign satellites and even plans to hire a satellite, but it still won't be enough.

There is another hitch - Communication satellites are very heavy and they fly very high and so, they need very powerful rockets. But after failing twice in 2010, India's Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle will fly again only next year.

"The cryogenic engine and stage have to be tested, the flight stage has to be made ready. On the other side, some improvements for the shroud design, that we have learnt from this experience, we will incorporate into next year's launches," K Radhakrishnan said.

Therefore, ISRO has put its old warhorse, the PSLV, on steroids. With six extra large motors and twelve tonnes of fuel, it will take GSAT-12 into space.

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