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India Delays Launch of Dedicated South Asia Satellite Amid Tension With Pakistan

Sputnik News

16:38 24.10.2016(updated 16:42 24.10.2016)

India's launch of a satellite on behalf of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was announced two years ago by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the SAARC summit in Kathmandu. However, the launch date has been postponed indefinitely due to disagreements between India and its neighbor over ongoing violence in Kashmir.

New Delhi (Sputnik) – The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) says it won't be possible for it to carry out the much-anticipated launch of the SAARC satellite as scheduled in December. Instead, it plans to launch its ambitious Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark – III. An ISRO official told Sputnik that it is certain that the launch of the South Asian satellite will be delayed by more than a month, although the exact date for the launch of GLSV Mark-III remains to be finalized.

The dedicated satellite was designed by India and will serve the needs of the eight SAARC countries, providing a range of public services. The two metric ton satellite has 12 Ku band transponders; each is dedicated to providing communication, education, telemedicine, disaster monitoring and other need-based services to one country in the region, according to ISRO. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had proposed offering the use of the exclusive satellite to other countries in the region; India is the only one among them which possesses the ability to build and launch satellites for communications, earth observations and space research.

Meanwhile, the postponement of the satellite launch also coincides with heightened tension between India and Pakistan, necessitating the cancellation of the group's annual summit, which was to be hosted by Islamabad. Islamabad was already against the launch of the satellite, as it wanted it to be brought under the purview of the SAARC, while India wanted to reserve certain rights. Afghanistan also has reservations regarding the satellite. All other member countries of SAARC have ratified the proposal to launch the satellite.

SAARC was formed in 1985: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were its seven original members but it was subsequently expanded to include Afghanistan.


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