Communication Satellite Current Affairs - 2020

ISRO successfully launches GSAT-6A satellite

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched GSAT 6A communication satellite on board of GSLV-F08 rocket from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. This was overall 12th GSLV flight (and fifth successful) and sixth flight with indigenously built cryogenic upper stage engine.


GSAT-6A is high power S-band communication satellite with a mission life of about 10 years. It was placed in Geosynchronous orbit of Earth. It weighs 2066 kg and is most powerful home-made communication satellite till date. It is similar to GSAT-6 is a high power S-band communication satellite that was launched back in 2015.

The S-band’s antenna of GSAT-6A was developed by ISRO’s Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad. It also has smaller 0.8-metre antenna for communication in the C band. It will provide mobile communication to India through multi beam coverage facility.

It will also provide platform for developing technologies such as demonstration of S-Band Unfurlable Antenna, handheld ground terminals and network management techniques that could be useful in satellite based mobile communication applications. It will be also designated for military use especially in remotest areas of the country.

Special feature of GSAT-6A: It has 6-metre-wide umbrella-like antenna that will be unfurled in space. The antenna is thrice as broad as antennas generally used in ISRO satellites. It will enable mobile communication from anywhere via hand-held ground terminals. It will require small ground station as regular communication satellites with smaller antenna require much larger ground stations.


S-band is electromagnetic spectrum covering frequencies from 2 to 4 gigahertz (GHz). It is very useful and is used globally for 4G service and is extremely valuable for mobile broadband services. It crosses conventional boundary between Super High Frequency (SHF) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) bands at 3.0 GHz.

Update: On April 1, 2018, ISRO confirmed that it had lost contact satellite GSAT-6A in the aftermath of second orbit-raising exercise.

NASA successfully launches Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NSAS) has successfully launched Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) into orbit. It was launched aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.

TDRS-M is third and final satellite in a series of the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS), next generation communications satellites.


TDRS-M as part of NASA’s Space Network will provide navigation and high-data-rate communications to the International Space Station (ISS), Hubble Space Telescope, rockets and a host of other spacecraft. It will also expand the capabilities and extend the lifespan of the NASA’s Space Network which will allow researchers to continue receiving and transmitting mission data well into the next decade.

Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS)

The TDRSS is a fleet of geosynchronous communications satellites that form part of NASA’s Space Network. It was introduced in the 1980s to support the Space Shuttle. It is still in service, providing scientific data, relay for communications, telemetry and commands between operators on the ground and spacecraft in Earth orbit. TDRS-M’s predecessors, TDRS-K and TDRS-L were also launched onboard of Atlas V rockets in January 2013 and January 2014, respectively. The TDRS fleet is a critical connection for delivering science and human spaceflight data to researchers on Earth.