January 05, 2014

India successfully launches indigenous cryogenic engine-powered GSLV-D5

SRIHARIKOTA: Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) on Sunday successfully launched GSLV-D5 rocket, which is powered by an indigenous cryogenic engine, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

Seventeen minutes after liftoff at 4.18pm, the rocket successfully injected GSAT-14 communication satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit.

Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan declared the mission a success. He said, "This shows the maturity of the team. We dedicate the proud moment for the country."

"The launch has been so precise that the satellite was put just 40 metres within the 179km perigee and only 50km of the 36,000km apogee," mission director K Sivan said.

Isro achieved the feat after two failures earlier. While India has mastered the PSLV range of rockets with a string of 25 consecutive successes, GSLV, which can carry heavier payloads including humans to space, has remained a challenge.

In April 2010, Isro tested its first indigenous cryogenic engine, but it failed a little less than a second after the cryogenic stage ignited. A refurbished GSLV-D5 was to be launched in August 2013, but a leak in the liquid fuel tank forced the mission to be aborted two hours before the rocket was to lift off.

India had got seven cryogenic engines from Russia, and Isro has used six of them. With no affordable supply coming from abroad, India felt the necessity to develop its own cryogenic engine, which uses liquid hydrogen as fuel and liquid oxygen and oxidizer.

Cryogenics, the science of extremely low temperatures, has posed a challenge to rocket scientists across the world.

The successful launch of this rocket was crucial for India as this is the first step towards building rockets that can carry heavier payloads.
Today’s launch was the first mission of the GSLV after two such rockets failed in 2010 and last August launch was aborted at the last minute as the fuel started leaking from its second stage or engine.
Isro said that the second stage was replaced with a new one built with a different metal and some of the critical components were also replaced in the four strap-on motors of the first stage as a matter of precaution, according to an Isro official.
One of the GSLV rockets was fitted with the Indian cryogenic engine and the other with a Russian engine.
The GSLV is a three-stage/engine rocket. The first stage is fired with solid fuel, the second is the liquid fuel and the third is the cryogenic engine.
Several design changes were incorporated into the rocket for a safe blast-off and design changes were also made in the lower shroud/cover that protects the cryogenic engine during the atmospheric flight; wire tunnel of the cryogenic stage to withstand larger forces during the flight; and the revised aerodynamic characterisation of the entire rocket.
The 49.13-metre tall rocket, weighing 414.75 tonnes was launched today and the GSLV safely delivered GSAT-14 to augment the Indian transponder - receivers and transmitters of signals - capacity.
GSLV is capable of launching 2000 kg class satellites into GTO. GSLV Mark-III, to place 4000 kg class satellites in GTO, is under development.
India has developed and commissioned Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle.
PSLV can launch 1850 kg class remote sensing satellites into a 480 km polar Orbit. It can also place a satellite weighing about 1150 kg in Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or a 3500 kg class satellite in Low Earth Orbit.
Out of the 68 launches by Isro from April 1975, 26 launches were carried out from locations outside India.
Quick rewind:
December 26
GSAT 14 Communication Satellite integration with the refurbished GSLV D5 completed successfully.
December 28
* The Mission Readiness Review (MRR) team and the Launch Authorisation Board (LAB) have cleared the GSLV-D5/GSAT 14 launch
* The vehicle is moved from the vehicle assembly building to the umbilical tower (the launch pad) in the morning
December 30
GSLV D5 being moved from Vehicle Assembly Building to Second Launch Pad
January 4
A 29-hour countdown commenced at 11.00 hrs (IST)
January 5
GSLV-D5 successfully launched

The successful launch of India's heavier rocket - the geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle-D5 (GSLV-D5) - Sunday not only means the indigenous cryogenic engine is performing well but also would pave way for sizeable savings, the space agency's chief said Saturday. 

"When GSLV-D5 succeeds in its mission Sunday, it means the Indian cryogenic stage/engine is performing well. It is a culmination of major indigenous technology development," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K.Radhakrishnan.
In addition, the mission's success would not only pave way for ISRO to save launch costs paid to foreign space agencies but also to launch more communication satellites augmenting the transponder capacity to earn more revenue, he added. 

Radhakrishnan said the country pays around $85-90 million or around Rs.500 crore as launch fee for sending up a 3.5 tonne communication satellites whereas the GSLV rocket costs around Rs.220 crore and the GSAT-14 that would go up Sunday evening costs around Rs.145 crore. 

The ISRO can send smaller communication satellites - weighing around two tonnes - till such time it gets ready an advanced GSLV variant that can lug satellites weighing around four tonnes.

While that is for the future, Radhakrishnan said ISRO has lined up several satellite launches for the current GSLV rocket version. 

"We will be launching satellites GSAT-6, 7A, 9 using GSLV. We will also be using this rocket for our second Chandrayaan mission and for the launch of GISAT," he said. 

According to him, another communication satellite GSAT-15 will be launched using the Ariane rocket. 

Other than the flight testing of cryogenic engine, 2014 will be an important year for ISRO. 

Radhakrishnan noted that in September, the Mars Orbiter will be injected into the Mars orbit while the test flight of GSLV-Mark III version will also include a crew module for characterisation of re-entry from the space. 

"The GSLV-Mark III experimental mission will be in April this year. The rocket will have a passive cryogenic stage/engine. The main purpose of the mission is to study the aerodynamics and stability of the rocket," he said.

He said the cryogenic engine for the next GSLV version will take around three years for being flight ready. 

According to him, the next fiscal (April 2014-March 2015) would see ISRO launching three IRNSS (Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System) satellites taking the total to four and be ready for usage. 

He said ISRO will also launch French satellite SPOT-7 along with four small satellites using its other rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). 

Radhakrishnan said ISRO plans to induct around 96 transponders (receivers and transmitters of signals),next fiscal. Currently it has 195 transponders.

Queried about the Mars Orbiter that was launched last year, he said the satellite health is good and it is around 8.5 million kilometer from earth. 

"The next orbit maneuver (course correction) will be in April," he said.


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