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Last Updated: Monday, 20 September, 2004, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
India launches learning satellite
Girls in Indian school
The satellite will help in linking classrooms across India
India has launched its first satellite to be used for expanding the country's educational network.

The Edusat, weighing around 2,000kg, will help train teachers and provide primary and secondary education by linking classrooms across India.

It is hoped the satellite will help revolutionise learning in India by taking education to remote classrooms.

About a third of India's billion-plus population cannot read and only 13% finish high school.

'Beautiful bird'

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) took nearly three years to build the $17m satellite.

It will be another beautiful bird in the sky spreading education
Sriharikota director PS Goel

It was sent into space by India's locally-made geo-synchronous satellite launch vehicle from Sriharikota island in southern Andhra Pradesh state.

"We have got a perfect launch. I hope in the next few days we will have major operations running," PS Goel, director of the satellite centre, told reporters.

"It will be another beautiful bird in the sky spreading education."

A spokesman for Isro told the French news agency AFP that universities in three Indian states would be linked through the satellite, which has a mission life of seven years.

The states are Karnataka in the south, Maharashtra in the west and the central state of Madhya Pradesh.

In the second phase, the satellite will link more than 1,000 classrooms in two more states.

Isro chairman Madhavan Nair said the satellite would help beam lectures by eminent persons to classrooms across the country.

Launch history

India launches its own satellites and plans to enter the lucrative commercial satellite launch market.

In September 2002, India successfully launched its first weather satellite to help the country predict cyclones and storms more accurately.

In 2001, it successfully tested its first geostationary launch vehicle, which is capable of launching bigger satellites into a higher orbit.

India also plans to send a spacecraft to the moon by 2008.

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