On 24 April, Arianespace officially confirmed that GSAT-11, India’s latest communications satellite and Arianespace’s planned next launch, has officially been sent back to India from the Arianespace launch site at Kourou, French Guiana. The recall was allegedly made at the request of India’s space agency ISRO.
GSAT-11, a 5,700kg high-throughput geostationary communications satellite from ISRO’s GSAT series, was supposed to be launched on 25 May by the Ariane 5 launcher. Along with GSAT-11, the launch was scheduled to carry the Azerspace-2/Intelsat-38 satellite for Azercosmos and Intelsat, both of which are still at Kourou.
According to Arianespace, the satellite was sent back because it required “additional technical checks” at the ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) at Bengaluru. So far, ISRO has not commented on the incident.
Arianespace has announced that it will go ahead with the following scheduled launch, which will take place in July. The launch will see an Ariane 5 launch four Galileo satellites for the European Space Agency (ESA), as part of ESA’s Galileo navigation constellation. GSAT-11, along with Azerspace-2/Intelsat-38, will be launched at a later date not yet announced.
This is ISRO’s second GSAT setback in a month – on March 29, the agency launched GSAT-6A from its indigenous launch site at Sriharikota, only to lose contact with the satellite on 1 April 2018. So far, there have been no updates on the GSAT-6A situation.