New Delhi: With the Union Cabinet giving its nod to the continuation of GSLV-III programme, India is set to soon acquire capability to launch the 4-tonne class of communication satellites.
At present, India launches smaller satellites of its own and other countries from Sriharikota.
Briefing the media after the Cabinet meet on Wednesday, Minister of State for Space Jitendra Singh also announced that India will soon be launching its second Moon mission called Chandrayaan-2 with a rover that would move on and examine the Moon's surface.
The phase-I of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark-III will see launch of 10 GSLV flights between 2019-2024, at a total estimated cost of Rs 4,338.20 crore.
"The operationalisation of GSLV Mk-III will make our country self-reliant in the launching capability of 4-tonne class of communication satellites, and sustain and strengthen the space infrastructure and reduce the dependence on procured launches from foreign countries," Singh said.
The continuation programme will meet the launch requirement of communication satellites to meet the national demand for High Throughput Satellites for rural broadband connectivity, increase and sustain the availability of transponders for DTH, VSAT and television broadcasters, he added.
The GSLV Mk-III has been developed towards achieving indigenous launch capability to launch 4-tonne class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). It has completed one experimental flight (LVM3-X) in 2014 and one developmental flight (GSLV MkIII-D1) in 2017.
In a related development, the Cabinet also approved continuation of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) programme phase 6 and funding of 30 PSLV operational flights under the programme.
"The programme will also meet the launch requirement of satellites for earth observation, navigation and space sciences. This will also ensure the continuity of production in Indian industry," Singh said.
The total fund requirement of Rs 6,131 crore includes the cost of 30 PSLV vehicles, essential facility augmentation, programme management and launch campaign, he said.
"The PSLV continuation programme phase 6 will meet the demand for the launch of satellites at a frequency up to eight launches per year, with maximal participation by the Indian industry. All the operational flights would be completed during the period 2019-2024," the minister said.