Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Rajya Sabha TV Security Scan – Military Satellites

Rajya Sabha TV Security Scan – Military Satellites


PRELIMS: Current events of national and international importance

MAINS: GENERAL STUDIES III: Technology and Security, Awareness in the field of space)

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched GSAT-7A on 19 December 2018 which is a dedicated communication satellite for defence purposes. The satellite will connect all assets of Indian Air Force (IAF) such as fighter planes, Airborne early warning control system (AWACS) and drones with each other and ground stations giving IAF network centric warfare capability. Indian Navy already has a satellite GSAT 7 (Rukmini), launched in 2013, which provides it real time secure communications over the Indian Ocean Region.


Figure: Diagram explaining functioning of a communication satellite


  • An “artificial” satellite (different from “natural” satellites like Earth’s Moon) is an artificial object intentionally placed into orbit using a launch vehicle (rocket).
  • Various types of artificial satellites include civilian and militaryEarth observation satellites, communication satellites, navigation satellites, weather satellites, and space telescopes.
  • A communications satellite is an artificial satellite that relays and amplifies radio telecommunications via a It creates a communication channel between a source transmitter and a receiver at different locations on Earth.
  • They can be used for television, telephone, radio, internet and military applications.
  • They use a range of wide range of radio and microwave frequencies.
  • Much of the world’s data, TV, and telephone communications are transmitted long distances by microwaves between ground stations and communication satellites.
  • Frequencies in the microwave range are referred as S, C, X, Ku, K, or, Ka
  • An artificial satellite used for military purpose is called a ‘military satellite’. They can be used for intelligence gathering, navigation and military communications.
  • There are more than 300 military or dual-use satellites (in December 2018), mostly owned by USA, Russia, China and India.



  • The GSAT satellites are India’s indigenously developed communication satellites, used for digital audio, data and video broadcasting.
  • Satellites like GSAT-6 (INSAT-4E), GSAT-7, GSAT-7A, GSAT-8 (INSAT-4G), GSAT-9 (South Asia satellite), etc are in service.


  • It is a military communication satellite for the Indian Air Force (IAF). It will provide connections to various assets used by IAF uninterrupted in real time.
  • It will enhance global operations of IAF.
  • It will operate in Ku band (frequencies ranging from 12-14 gigahertz) transponder which has several advantages over C-band (frequencies ranging from 4-8 gigahertz) like more powerful satellite signals, smaller antennas, and non-interference of communication signals with terrestrial microwave systems.
  • Predecessor of GSAT-7A is GSAT-7 that provided secure connections for Indian ships in the vast Indian Ocean Region.
  • GSAT-6 (launched in August 2015) is another sophisticated communication satellite gives an edge to Central Forces of India like CRPF when operating in Naxal-prone areas.
  • India also has, in addition, which can do Earth imaging like the Cartosat series. They have special cameras that can constantly view over India and Indian Ocean Region. So, all such satellites provide India an edge in warfare.
  • For navigation purposes, India has Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) or NAVIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation). It covers India and a region 1500 km around it.

7 operational satellites of IRNSS series = 3 Geostationary orbit satellites + 4 Geosynchronous satellites.

  • As a competitor, China also has developed its space program and it offers services to Pakistan too. For example, like India’s NAVIC, China has its BeiDou navigation system that has been offering services to customers in Asia-Pacific Region.


Satellites are useful in providing various inputs for both civilian and military purposes. India has borders which have difficult terrains and weather conditions and so, inputs in various forms are needed through satellites. India needs to keep improving its space programs for military uses and create a space command in coming days. Remote sensing, communication and navigation are the three fields which will increase the capabilities of the defence forces.




  1. PRELIMS 2018

With reference to the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), consider the following statements

  1. IRNSS has three satellites in geostationary and four satellites in geosynchronous orbits.
  2. IRNSS covers entire India and about 5500 km2beyond its borders.
  • India will have its own satellite navigation system with full global coverage by the middle of 2019

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. (i) only
  2. (i) and (ii) only
  3. (ii) and (iii) only
  4. None


  1. MAINS 2008

What do you know about Indian National Satellite Systems (INSAT)? Describe its important features.


  1. MAINS 2010

Comment on ‘CARTOSAT 2B’.


  1. MAINS 2015

What do you understand by ‘Standard Positioning Systems’ and ‘Precision Positioning Systems’ in the GPS era? Discuss the advantages India perceives from its ambitious IRNSS programme employing just seven satellites.


  1. PRELIMS 2011

An artificial satellite orbiting around the Earth does not fall down. This is so because the attraction of Earth

  1. Does not exist at such distance
  2. Is neutralised by the attraction of moon
  3. Provides the necessary speed for its steady motion
  4. Provides the necessary acceleration for its motion