The SAARC satellite to provide communication and meteorological services to the SAARC countries is likely to be launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in December 2016. According to the ISRO chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar the application potential of the proposed satellite was explained to representatives of SAARC nations, including Pakistan, at a meeting held last month.
In the first test flight, a scaled down version of the Reusable Launch Version (RLV), resembling a small winged aircraft, would be launched up to an altitude of 90 km from atop a solid booster rocket. Re-entering the atmosphere, the RLV would touch down in a controlled descent and be recovered from the sea. The RLV was conceived by the ISRO to cut the launch cost by one tenth.
Mr. Kumar also said the ISRO was preparing to scale up its operations to achieve a target of 10 launches per year from 2016. As many as 10 of the 30 launches to be taken up over the next three years would use the Mark 2 version of the GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle). The first developmental flight of the GSLV Mark 3 carrying an indigenous cryogenic engine for the upper stage was scheduled for December 2016. All the seven satellites in the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System will be in orbit by March 2016.
The ISRO is expecting to get an annual allocation of Rs. 6,000 crore to Rs.7,000 crore from the Indian government for its activities over the next two years.
In order to play a key role in the development of the region, Narendra Modi mooted the SAARC Satellite in 2014 to provide a full range of applications and services to India’s neighboring countries. Pakistan volunteered to help on the SAARC Satellite project which India refused.