An Indian communications satellite lost contact with the ground controller

There have been reported incidents before of satellites losing ground communications all over the world. Similar was the fate of GSAT 6A, an Indian communication satellite that was sent to space for a 10 years long mission. Surprisingly this satellite did not show any detectable signs of malfunction but nevertheless went silent. The ground controllers had constantly tried to track it but in vain.

Reports came in that the spacecraft had gone silent quite suddenly that was really surprising for the officials. The Times of India post their interview of an unknown Indian official, quoted him saying that “it was almost like the communication satellite had suffered a cardiac arrest.”

This sounds like a perfect explanation because usually ground controllers begin to notice certain faulty things or signals in the satellite controls when they begin to go wrong. This means these are the first stage of notifications of problems before the spacecraft completely stops communications. This was an exceptional incident showing no beginner signs and symptom. These kinds of problems also make diagnosis difficult so that the error cannot be spotted easily to bring back the spacecraft on track online.

The worst part is observations from the Earth still shows that the satellite is very much intact but due lack of signal communications, it has failed to reach its destination circular orbit. There was huge monetary loss involved in this situation since the GSAT 6A satellite costs about $41m (£29m) and had a tentative period of functioning for about 10 years. It was supposed to send back communications to some of the remote areas of India that included civilian, military as a well as government users.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) most has had successful projects off late. The efforts to re-establish connection with GSAT 6A is continued by ISRO with hopes held high.