NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India will launch a communications satellite this year using SpaceX’s Falcon-9 rocket, its first partnership with a company led by billionaire Elon Musk that also wants to expand its other businesses in the country.
The high-capacity satellite aims to boost India’s broadband communications, particularly in remote and unconnected parts of the country, state-owned NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL), the commercial arm of the Indian space agency, in a press release.
The launch is planned for the second quarter of this year, NSIL said. The satellite weighs 4,700 kg, which exceeds Indian space agency ISRO’s current highest spacecraft launch capacity of 4,000 kg.
Musk, who is the chief executive of SpaceX and Tesla, wants to bring his Starlink satellite broadband to India and is also discussing an investment proposal for Tesla to set up a factory there to make electric vehicles. But it faces resistance from certain players in the country’s national industry.
NSIL said it will fully own, operate and finance the GSAT-20 broadband satellite, offering a capacity of 48 gigabits per second.
(Reporting by Shivam Patel; editing by Nick Macfie)
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