India’s space agency ISRO reported that the satellite GSAT-6A which was being carried by the GSLV rocket last week has dropped out of radar contact. In a statement, ISRO mentioned that they had lost communication with the satellite while it was being prepped for the final push that will place it in the orbit. It is not clear about what went wrong and whether or not the satellite can be retrieved.
The GSAT-6A was supposed to be put into orbit in three phases. After a satellite is launched, it is kept closer to the Earth before it is raised to its final orbit, reports NDTV. Orbit raising is a set of manoeuvres which takes the satellite to its orbit in stages. ISRO updated at 9:22 am last week on Friday, March 30 that the first orbit raising exercise was executed.
Reports said that the second orbit-raising was also successful and the thrusters were fired for 53 minutes on Saturday. During the preparations for the third orbit raising, communications with the satellite was lost. ISRO’s statement said that they are working on re-establishing the link with the satellite.
"The second orbit raising operation of GSAT-6A satellite has been successfully carried out by LAM Engine firing for about 53 minutes on March 31, 2018, in the morning... After the successful long-duration firings, when the satellite was on course to normal operating configuration for the third and the final firing, scheduled for April 1, 2018, communication from the satellite was lost," ISRO said in the statement.
The GSAT-6A is made in India at a cost of Rs 270 crore. The satellite is designed to send and receive signals for mobile devices. With large, 6 meter wide antennas for more powerful signals and a special feature which would be important for India’s moon mission, the loss of the GSAT-6A can be costly.