India to Use SpaceX Rocket to Launch Communication Satellite GSAT-20

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The GSAT-20 satellite has a mass of 4,700 kg, surpassing the maximum launch capacity of 4,000 kg of India’s current space launch vehicles. 

India is set to embark on a significant collaboration with SpaceX, the aerospace company led by billionaire Elon Musk, by launching a communications satellite using SpaceX’s Falcon-9 rocket. This venture marks India’s first partnership with Elon Musk’s enterprise, which aligns with Musk’s broader interest in expanding his various business ventures in India.

The satellite in question, named GSAT-20, is a high-capacity communication satellite designed to enhance broadband communication across India, particularly in remote and underserved regions. The launch, managed by New Space India Ltd (NSIL), the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is slated for the second quarter of this year.

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This collaboration is noteworthy as the GSAT-20 satellite has a mass of 4,700 kg, surpassing the maximum launch capacity of 4,000 kg of India’s current space launch vehicles. Using SpaceX’s Falcon-9 rocket for this launch signifies a crucial step for India in handling heavier payloads and expanding its space capabilities.

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and electric vehicle giant Tesla (TSLA.O), has shown a keen interest in introducing his Starlink satellite broadband services to the Indian market. Additionally, there are ongoing discussions about Tesla potentially setting up a manufacturing facility in India to produce electric vehicles. However, Musk’s ambitions in India have been met with some resistance from segments of the country’s domestic industry, reflecting the complex dynamics of foreign investment and competition in the Indian market.

NSIL has confirmed that it will have full ownership, operational control, and financial responsibility for the GSAT-20 satellite. The satellite boasts a high throughput with a capacity of 48 gigabits per second, aiming to significantly boost India’s communication infrastructure. The successful launch and operation of GSAT-20 could mark a pivotal moment in India’s space endeavours and its emerging collaboration with private space enterprises like SpaceX.

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