GSLV-D5 Launch Puts India in 'Cryo Club'

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) on Sunday successfully launched the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-D5 (GSLV-D5), carrying communication satellite GSAT-14, from Sriharikota, about 80 km from Chennai.

With this, India joined the “cryo club”, a select group of spacefaring nations having the crucial cryogenic engine technology, which is necessary to carry heavy satellites. Countries which have such a capability are the US, Russia, France, Japan and China.

Isro Chairman K Radhakrishnan said: “I am extremely happy and proud to say that Team Isro has done it. The Indian cryogenic engine and stage performed as predicted, as expected for this mission and injected precisely the GSAT-14 communication satellite into the intended orbit.”

He said this was an important day for science and technology and for space technology in the country. “Twenty years’ efforts in realising the cryogenic engine and stage have now been fructified... toiling of 20 years, excruciating efforts of the past three-and-a-half years after we had the first test flight of this cryogenic engine and stage and all the efforts put by Team Isro for the last few years.”

Radhakrishnan lauded professor U R Rao, who in 1992 decided that Isro should have an indigenously developed cryogenic engine and stage for the GSLV programme.

Until now, India has had to depend on other countries to launch satellites of more than three tonnes, shelling out huge money.

According to a senior Isro official, India has been paying $85-90 million (around Rs 500 crore) as launch fee to foreign space agencies for sending communication satellites weighing up to 3.5 tonnes. The successful launch of this rocket was crucial for India as this was the first step towards building rockets that can carry heavier payloads. The launch was also the first mission of the GSLV after two such rockets failed in 2010 and an August 2013 launch was aborted at the last minute following leakage of fuel from the second-stage engine.

Isro said the second-stage engine has now been 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 precaution. 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 with liquid fuel and the third is the cryogenic engine. GSLV-D5, launched on Sunday, is 49.13 metres tall and weighs 414.75 tonnes. 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.


Business Standard , January 06, 2014