“We have slightly tweaked the configuration of GSAT-6 from the original one to suit the needs of strategic users,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar told media after the launch.
The two-tonne heavy satellite became a subject of controversy, as 90 percent of its transponders were to be leased to Devas Multimedia Ltd by ISRO commercial arm Antrix Corporation under a deal, which was annulled in February 2011 on the ground that the country’s defends needs had to be met.
When told in a lighter vein that the subject matter of controversy was up in space, Kiran Kumar laughed.
Under the controversial deal, the Bengaluru-based Devas was to use the transponders of GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A in the crucial S-Band wavelength (that was primarily kept for the country’s strategic interests) for its digital multimedia service for 12 years.
Antrix had signed the $300-million contract with Devas in January 2005 and obtained sanction of the Space Commission and the union cabinet for the two satellites (GSAT-6 & GSAT-6A) without informing the government that the bulk capacity (90 percent) would be leased to the multimedia service provider.
When the controversy broke in December 2009, the state-run ISRO ordered a review of the deal and subsequently the Space Commission had recommended its annulment on July 2, 2010. Antrix terminated the deal on February 25, 2011.