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India loses contact with a recently launched satellite

Thankfully, officials are confident that they can save the GSAT-6A.
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ARUN SANKAR via Getty Images

On Thursday, the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) launched the GSAT-6A, the country's most powerful communications satellite to date, into orbit. Yesterday, the organization confirmed that it had lost contact with the satellite, possibly due to a failure in the power system, according to the Times of India.

The launch, aboard the GSLV-F08 rocket, appeared to go smoothly, and the satellite successfully completed an orbital maneuver following its deployment into geosynchronous transfer orbit. GSAT-6A was then supposed to execute another operation to raise its orbit a day later. About four minutes after that maneuver occurred, officials lost contact with the satellite.

The successful launch of GSAT-6A was seen as a huge triumph for India's space program, so this is certainly a setback. The country has been developing a robust space program capable of competing on the world stage for years. It doesn't help that this is the second satellite that the agency has lost in the last six months; the last failure was one of the launch vehicle PSLV, rather than the satellite itself.

Still, all is not lost. ISRO Chairman K. Sivan told The Hindu that, according to the data the organization has right now, "we expect that we will be able to recover the satellite." That's certainly good news, and will help the agency get back on track.

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