Isro launches GSLV-d5 with home-made cryogenic engine
Sriharikota, 5 January
Finally taming its GSLV jinx, Isro today successfully launched a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D5), equipped with an indigenous cryogenic engine, that placed a 1982-kg communication satellite into orbit.
The mission, which cost around Rs 360 crore, was a major milestone, and boosted India into the small club of spacefaring nations that have the cryogenic engine technology necessary to carry heavy satellites into space. It came after twin back-to-back failures in 2010; the GSLV-D5’s launch in August last year had also been aborted at the last minute.
It was an anxious 17.8 minutes for Isro scientists from the moment the 49.13-metre tall rocket, weighing 414.75 tonnes, blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, 80 kms from Chennai, till it safely delivered the GSAT-14 communications satellite into orbit.
Dr K Radhakrishnan, chairman, Isro, told the nation that the mission was a total success. “The satellite was injected into the pre-determined orbit exactly as per plan. The launch and deployment of the satellite was precisely based on our planning. You cannot ask for more precision than this," added the chairman.
The space agency’s Mission Readiness Review team and the Launch Authorisation Board had cleared the rocket launch for 5 January. The rocket was moved to the launch pad on 28 December.
After Isro’s successful Mars orbiter launch last year, all eyes were on the space agency to see whether the GSLV, powered by its indigenous cryogenic engine, would successfully deliver the GSAT-14 into orbit.
Isro was to have conducted the launch last August but terminated it hours before the final countdown, as fuel started leaking from its second stage. According to Isro officials, the second stage was replaced with a new one built with different materials. Today&’s launch is the first mission of the GSLV after two such rockets failed in 2010. One of the GSLV rockets that failed was fitted with the Indian cryogenic engine and the other with a Russian engine.
The GSLV is a three-stage rocket. The first stage is fired with solid fuel, the second is the liquid fuel and the third is the cryogenic engine. The successful launch of this rocket was crucial for India as it is the first step towards building rockets that can carry heavier payloads, upto four tonnes.