The satellite was the heaviest in its range and the launch vehicle was 49-metre-tall, with a 414 tonne GSLV three-stage vehicle. The first stage, GS1, comprised a core motor with 138 tonne of solid propellants and four strap-on motors, each with 42 tonnes of hypergolic liquid propellant. If successful, the life-span of this satellite was expected to be 10 years.
This satellite was all set to provide refined Direct to Home (DTH) services to the people. The second satellite in the INSAT 4 series, it was also aimed at the intensification of video picture transmission besides providing space for National Informatics Centre’s VSAT connectivity. It would have proved to be a major telecast booster for all the companies willing to jump in this field. Not only this, it is the first time India made an attempt to launch a communication satellite for commercial services using its own launch vehicle.
This failure has raised questions and ISRO’s chairman G Madhavan Nair said that, “things have gone wrong at the stage of seperation of booster from the launch vehicle. The data has to be analysed to figure out the root cause of the failure”.
This launch was the second operational flight of GSLV, while first was the orbiting of Edusat in September, 2004. It was the first ever launch of INSAT-class for viable gains, from the home soil.
Sun TV was being much talked about, for providing DTH services through INSAT-4C. INSAT-4C had 12 transponders in total, out of which it had booked seven to provide flawless transmission. Other transponders were on the sharing basis by companies such as CNBC-TV18, Times Now, Kairali TV, National Informatics Centre and Videsh Sanchar Nigam ltd. The transponders were of KU Band, having capability of providing high quality transmission of television channels giving DVD like effect to the viewer.
INSAT-4C failure had given these companies a “chill in their spine”, especially Sun TV; though it’s getting a little back-up from Astro All Asia Network. It is because Sun TV was holding a major share in the satellite and was depending mainly on it for their expansion. Other channels are not much affected with this unfortunate happening as they are already running their DTH programme through INSAT-3B and INSAT-4A. It seems that this disaster will delay the scheduled DTH programme of Sun TV. To avoid this, ISRO will be providing them alternative transponders on another satellite, may be hired from another company. This has made Sun TV to heave a sigh of relief.
Tata Sky has also been affected with this failure, but not much. Tata Sky, a second entrant in the race of ‘pay’ DTH transmission, is a joint venture between the Tata Group and Star. INSAT-4C was designed, mainly, to enhance India’s capacity of providing excellent Direct To Home transmission services. This satellite was also designed to provide other services such as digital picture transmission, digital satellite news gathering,transmission, digital satellite news gathering, meteorological imaging and services for National Informatics Centre. All these services could have empowered India with the ability of giving world-class DTH transmission.
The demand for Direct to Home transmission is rising because of the facilities provided by it. It will help the viewers to have a clear view of their favorite channels directly through satellite. All they require is a set-top box that will receive those channels. It will curb your cable TV bill, as you will be paying only for those channels that you want to see. Increase in the demand of DTH services has hiked the demand for KU band transponders that are enabled to receive satellite signals using a small dish antenna of 60-90 centimeter in diameter.
INSAT–4C was an elite step in the field of DTH services such as high quality picture and sound transmission. If successful, it would have done wonders to the broadcasting industry. The broadcasting industry would have had a glorified future with enhanced picture and content quality. Its failure has given a severe blow to planning process of various channels. It is because they were thinking of attracting maximum number of people with better facilities. As the total expenditure on this project was of Rs. 256 crores, it is a major setback to ISRO and to India’s space programme. This has also put back the plans of ISRO of making huge revenue from launching of satellites of other countries.