On the 21st September, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched a rocket in to space carrying a 1950 kg satellite dedicated to the cause of education, 'Edusat'. The rocket was launched from the country's only spaceport at Sriharikota and placed its payload on a designated orbit, 5000 km away minutes later.
EDUSAT is the first Indian satellite built exclusively for serving the educational sector. It is mainly intended to meet the demand for an interactive satellite based distance education system for the country. It strongly reflects India's commitment to use space technology for national development, especially for the development of the population in remote and rural locations.
The 1950 kg EDUSAT was launched into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) by ISRO's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). From GTO, EDUSAT will reach the 36,000 km high Geostationary Orbit (GSO) by firing, in stages, its on board Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM). In GSO, the satellite will be co-located with KALPANA-1 and INSAT-3C satellites at 74 deg East longitude.
Edusat is expected to have a life of seven years in space, during which it will help educational institutions make up for, among other things, the dearth of good teachers by providing connectivity with classrooms far away.
The universalisation of education has become the top priority in India, especially for the developing countries.
But the extension of quality education to remote and rural regions becomes a Herculean task for a large country like India with multi-lingual and multi-cultural population separated by vast geographical distances. There is a lack of adequate rural educational infrastructure and non-availability of good teachers in sufficient numbers which adversely affect the efforts made in education.
Compared to other satellites launched in the same series so far, EDUSAT will have several new technologies.
The spacecraft is built around a standardised spacecraft bus called I-2K. It has a multiple spot beam antenna with 1.2 m reflector to direct precisely the Ku band spot beams towards their intended regions of India, a dual core bent heat pipe for thermal control, high efficiency multi-junction solar cells and an improved thruster configuration for optimised propellant use for orbit and orientation maintenance. The satellite uses radiatively cooled Ku-band Travelling Wave Tube Amplifiers (TWTAs) and dielectrically loaded C-band DEMULTIPLEXER for its communication payloads.
Satellites can establish connectivity between urban educational institutions and a large number of rural and semi-urban educational institutions to provide an educational infrastructure.
Besides supporting formal education, a satellite system can facilitate the dissemination of knowledge to the rural and remote population about important aspects like health, hygiene and personality development and allow professionals to update their knowledge base as well.
Thus, in spite of limited trained and skilled teachers, the aspirations of the growing student population at all levels can be met through the concept of tele-education.
The concept of beaming educational programmes through satellites was effectively demonstrated for the first time in India in 1975-76 through the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) conducted using the American Application Technology Satellite (ATS-6).
During this experiment, programmes pertaining to health, hygiene and family planning were telecast directly to about 2,400 Indian villages spread over six states. Later, with the commissioning of INSAT system in 1983, a variety of educational programmes began telecast.
With the success of the INSAT based educational services in the eighties, a need was felt to launch a satellite dedicated for educational service and the ISRO conceived the EDUSAT Project in October 2002.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated the scientists and engineers, saying 'I am also happy to learn that the GSLV has successfully put into orbit our first satellite dedicated to education, Edusat, what would provide connectivity to educational institutions across the country'.