Friday, April 16, 2010

GSLV failure, a setback to ISRO

The unsuccessful launch of the GSAT-4 satellite aboard the GSLV-D3 is a major setback for the indigenous space program of the Indian Space Research Organisation. The GSLV D3 was powered fro the first time by a home made cryogenic engine which made India the 6th nation after US, Russia, Japan, France and China to possess such a complex technology. ISRO officials said that the Rs 330 crore mission failed minutes after the rocket lifted off at 4.27 PM. Although they would go ahead with the same mission next year, it is still considered to be a set back since ISRO had planned on using the GSLV rocket for its second moon mission.

ISRO Chairman however pointed out that the moon mission would be on schedule and the failure of this mission would not have any impact on the moon mission. ISRO is still looking into the reasons for this failure and a report on the same is expected in the next three days, We are not sure if the main cryogenic engine did ignite as the vehicle started to tumble. When we tested the cryogenic engine on the ground it got ignited.

This mission was unique for ISRO since in the past five flights of the GSLV, cryogenic stages which were used were procured from Russia. Besides, in the past the cryogenic technology was denied to India following US sanctions on Russia not to transfer this complex technology to India. Prior to the launch ISRO had said that the GSLV-D3 flight is significant as the indigeniously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) is flight tested in this mission. This is the first time GSLV is carrying the indigenious CUS as its third stage instead of the Russian supplied Cryogenic Stage (CS), which was carried during its earlier flights. In 2006 the (GSLV-F02), with INSAT-4C on board, launched from Sriharihota could not complete the mission.

Earlier GSLV launches

GSLV-D1 launched GSAT-1 on April 18, 2001 (Successful)

GSLV-D2 launched GSAT-2 on May 8, 2003 (Successful)

GSLV-F01 launched EDUSAT(GSAT-3) on September 20, 2004 (Successful)

GSLV-F02 launched INSAT-4C on July 10, 2006 (Unsuccessful)

GSLV-F04 launched INSAT-4CR on September 2, 2007 (Successful)

ISRO says that the set back is serious in nature. 18 years of labour has gone into this mission and Rs 330 crore had been spent on the same. The ISRO chairman said that it would bounce back within a year by launching a rocket powered by indigenously developed cryogenic engine. He also added that ISRO will be flying two more GSLV rockets fitted with Russian-made cryogenic engines to launch two GSAT series satellites. He further added that the primary issue is to be self reliant in rocket technology and today ISRO is able to realize a cryogenic engine for Rs 36 crore whereas if it is procured from outside, the cost would be Rs 90 crore.

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