Losing contact with GSAT-6A puts ISRO authorities in dock

Lalit Shastri

Giving a giving a go-bye to quality assurance, to increase launch frequency appears to be the main reason why Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO’s) GSAT-6A mission ended in failure.

Two days after India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F08) launched GSAT-6A Satellite into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) on March 29, 2018, the authorities confirmed they had lost contact with the powerful communications satellite designed to improve communication for Defence forces.

According to ISRO insiders, the duration of pre-shipment checks was being cut short only to increase launch frequency as every chairman was after glory. ISRO is collectively guilty and the top man more so. Inquiries revealed that the associate director of ISRO Satellite Center (ISAC) is also the Quality Assurance Head. This should never be the case as under such a scenario there is bound to  be conflict of interest.

Reliability & Quality Assurance Team of ISAC is supposed to be the nodal unit in formulation of “Quality Systems, procedures and guidelines and ensuring their compliance, for the realization of highly reliable Spacecraft Systems. Reliability & Quality Assurance activity is spread across the entire project life cycle and is a continuous process”.

During orbit raising, satellite power system goes into safe mode and switches to battery power. This time, somebody seems to have goofed up leading to the blowing up the power bus. It was pointed out in internal reviews but the warning signals were by-passed and go ahead for the launch was given. The ISRO Nano Satellites (INS) series, envisioned for future science and experimental payloads, has a history of failures. In Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) – NavIC (IRNSS series), also failures have been there in satellites but nobody has bothered to revisit the design for an objective assessment of causes leading to the failures. GSAT -19, which still has no ground segment after 6 months of launch, also had a transmitter failure.

Incidentally the satellite lost this time (GSAT-6A) was for military communication at border and remote areas using hand held terminals. The same frequency was originally contracted to Devas. It is rather unfortunate that ISRO was bartering surreptitiously such an important satellite frequency and orbital slot to Devas..

For more on Devas check:

Antrix-Devas Agreement, national security and CBI;  and
CBI registers case in the huge Antrix-Devas scam


ISRO insiders told Newsroom24x7 that there should be an independent fact finding by a non-scientist into the failure of the GSAT-6A mission.

The March 29 launch of GSLV was its twelfth and took place from the Second Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota, the spaceport of India.

ISRO built GSAT-6A as a communication satellite to provide mobile communication services through multi beam coverage. For this, the satellite was equipped with S and C band transponders. This Satellite was scheduled to be commissioned into service after the completion of orbit raising operations and its positioning in the designated slot in GSO following in-orbit testing of its payloads.

4 thoughts on “Losing contact with GSAT-6A puts ISRO authorities in dock

  1. The news appears to be a motivated one. Failures of this kind are not uncommon. In ISRO, for that matter in any organisation, the ultimate responsibility, whether it is failure or success, will be with the person heading the Centre. I have no doubt that ISRO will thoroughly investigate and pinpoint the reason for the failure.


    1. Dear Mr. Ravindranath, If you want to issue a rejoinder please do it. We will give a point by point reply. Please do not make sweeping comments. Our news is based on facts and we stand by our news story.


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