Chennai: Indian telecommunication satellite GSAT-15 was successfully launched on Tuesday evening by the European space agency Arianespace’s rocket Ariane 5, the space agency said on Wednesday.
In a statement, Arianespace said it had successfully launched two telecommunications satellites – GSAT-15 and Arabsat-6B – for two customers, namely the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Arabsat.
According to the global satellite launch company, the launch of the two satellites takes the total number of consecutive successful satellite launches to 69 for Ariane rocket.
The rocket blasted off with two satellites from the spaceport in French Guiana and completed the mission in around 43 minutes.
GSAT-15 was the 19th satellite entrusted to Arianespace by ISRO – and the 18th built by ISRO. This productive relationship extends back to 1981 with the launch of the APPLE experimental satellite, and further underscores the strong collaboration that France and India have set up in space.
“The launch is ISRO’s 19th mission with Arianespace. In the meantime, ISRO also has launched four French spacecraft using (India’s own) PSLV,” M. Annadurai, director of the ISRO Satellite Centre, was quoted as saying in the statement.
With a liftoff mass of approximately 3,160 kg, GSAT-15 is designed to provide telecommunications services as well as dedicated navigation-aid and emergency services across India.
The Indian satellite with a design life of 12 years has 24 Ku-band transponders (automatic receivers and transmitters of radio signals) and two GAGAN (GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation) transponders.
While the new satellite expected to replace the transponder capacities of older satellites, ISRO is silent on the total number of satellite transponders it has under its fold-owned and leased.
Thanks to government funding, Indian physicists are preparing for a deep dive into the quantum world that holds the secrets for developing exciting technologies for computing, communication, cryptography and many more.
Schemes for making India a major player in quantum technologies were deliberated during a five-day international conference on “Quantum Frontiers and Fundamentals” at the Raman Research Institute (RRI) here.
Sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation, the philanthropic organisation in the US, it was attended by eminent physicists from India and abroad, including several research students from India with a total number of around 100 participants, reflecting the significant growth in the research community in this area in our country.
“This is an interesting conference, blending quantum fundamentals aspects with applications, and is unique in its mandate as we have tried to provide equal emphasis to both theoretical research and experimental quantum technologies,” Urbasi Sinha, of RRI and organiser of the conference, told this correspondent. Dipankar Home of the Bose Institute, Kolkata, and Alexandre Matzkin of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris were the co-organisers.
Quantum physics is a basic theory in physics that deals with the behaviour of matter and light on the atomic and subatomic scale. Quantum technology exploits the weird properties of quantum mechanics — especially quantum entanglement, quantum superposition and quantum tunnelling — into practical applications for computing, cryptography and “secure” communication. Quantum computers that process “quantum data” (instead of binary data) are predicted to be faster than today’s largest classical computer.
Research in these areas at Indian laboratories has received a boost with promised funding support from the government’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), as well as small individual projects from the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the Prime Minister’s Office.
The DST’s Mission-Mode scheme, called “Quantum Science and Technology (QuST)”, will fund research “for the development and demonstration” of quantum computers, quantum communication and cryptography, besides “demonstration of quantum teleportation”.
The scheme, DST says, “promises to revolutionise the future computation and communication systems which will ultimately have huge impact on the nation and our society as a whole”.
The DST initiative has received overwhelming response and “has already received 128 proposals from researchers from different parts of the country,” Rajeev Sharma, a spokesperson for the scheme at DST, told this correspondent. “Funding is no problem,” he said.
ISRO, in collaboration with RRI, has initiated a mega project called “Quantum Experiments Using Satellite Technology (QUEST)”. Sinha, along with members of her “Quantum Information and Computing Lab” and theory colleagues at RRI, will play a key role in developing these technologies in the coming years, with support from ISRO.
“Once RRI is ready with an experimental payload, we will launch it on board one of our satellite missions,” M. Sankaran, deputy director of ISRO Satellite Centre in Bengaluru and one of the conference participants, told this correspondent.
According to Sinha, one of her first experiments “will be a collaborative effort with the ‘Quantum Photonics Lab’ at Ontario’s University of Waterloo” that will aim to establish “a secure Quantum Key Distribution link” between India and Canada.
“It is good that both DST and ISRO have decided to fund research in this important area,” said Arun Kumar Pati, a leading researcher in quantum physics at the Harish Chandra Research Institute in Allahabad and a conference participant. “We are 10 years behind and have to catch up.”
Using its world’s first quantum satellite called “Micius”, China had already demonstrated transmission of images from the country to Austria and researchers at the National University of Singapore had built a nano-satellite with a quantum communication payload. Scientists of the University of Waterloo have also demonstrated the first quantum key distribution transmissions from a ground transmitter to a quantum payload on a moving aircraft.
The conference suggested the formation in India of a society for quantum information scientists. It also called for greater thrust to experimental research and an increase in the pool of researchers in the area of quantum technologies. (IANS)