The space agency of India has lost contact of its new satellite just several days after its launch in a disappointing turn of events as it was supposed to last a decade.
The Indian Space Research Organisation has not yet given up in its attempts to reconnect with the satellite. However, if ISRO fails, will the satellite become the next Tiangong-1?
ISRO Loses Contact With GSAT 6A Satellite
ISRO launched the 2,140-kilogram (4,718-pound) GSAT 6A on March 29, and was able to complete the second orbit raising operation for the satellite on March 31. It was even able to extend its solar panels to start powering itself while in orbit.
However, before its third and final course correction firing on April 1, the Indian space agency lost contact with GSAT 6A. Scientists think that an electrical glitch may have been the cause of the severed link with the satellite.
ISRO is now working to re-establish the lost link with the satellite, but there is no certainty that the space agency will be able to do so. GSAT 6A was supposed to go into a "safe mode" if something like this happens, but it appears that the feature is not working as planned.
If GSAT 6A is lost to space, it will be a disappointing result for ISRO. The satellite, which cost $41 million, was supposed to work with the GSAT 6, launched in 2015, to boost regional communications for use by the Indian government and military. It was also expected to improve mobile communications in the country, especially in its remote areas.
Will GSAT 6A Crash To Earth Like Tiangong-1?
The ISRO losing control of GSAT 6A brings to mind the space station Tiangong-1. China lost contact and control of the space station in 2016, resulting in a guessing game on when and where it will fall back down to Earth.
Fortunately, most of Tiangong-1 burned up on its re-entry to Earth, so it posed no danger to humans. Ironically, the Chinese space station just missed Point Nemo, the so-called spacecraft graveyard that would have been its perfect final resting place.
With the severed link between ISRO and GSAT 6A, will the satellite become the next Tiangong-1? It appears to be too early to say, but according to reports, GSTA 6A will end up as space debris for the next 10 years, as it has enough fuel to stay up there for that long. Of course, cleaning up space junk is another issue altogether.