The successful launch of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)-D5, powered by an indigenous cryogenic engine, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, on Sunday has put India in the elite group of nations that can launch heavy satellites. The success comes after two back-to-back failures and one aborted mission involving the GSLV.
Only a few countries like the US, Russia, France Japan and China have mastered the cryogenic engine technology. India had been denied this technology for many years and had to depend on Russian technology for the previous GSLV launches. The launch vehicle, which has the capability of placing 2,000–2,500kg satellites into geosynchronous transfer orbit, will reduce if not completely stop India’s dependence on foreign launch vehicles.
At present, Indian satellites of this category are launched by foreign space agencies like Arianespace. The space agency spends around Rs500 crore for the launch of heavyweight satellites by a foreign space agency. However, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) could launch these satellites onboard its own launch vehicle like the GSLV at nearly half the cost.
A satellite placed in a geosynchronous orbit matches earth’s rotation.
S Ramakrishnan, director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, where the launch vehicle was designed and developed, said: “At Isro, we used to call GSLV a naughty boy. But today the naughty boy is a very obedient boy.” Isro chairperson K Radhakrishnan said: “It is an important day for Indian science and space technology.”
“This achievement could have been possible 10 years ago if the Kerala police had not filed a baseless case against me... We can now look forward to higher capabilities in our space programme,” former Isro project director Nambi Narayan said.
Some of Isro’s other ambitious missions like Chandrayaan-2 and Human Space Flight Programme bank heavily on the GSLV. Prior to launching Chandrayaan-2, Isro will have to complete at least two successful launches using the GSLV.
49 metres is the height of the three-stage GSLV
415 tonnes (as much as 80 elephants), lift-off capacity
6573 kilonewton lift-off thrust of vehicle
1982 kg is the weight of the communication satellite GSAT-14 put into orbit
Rs 350 crore the cost of the mission by Isro
6 Isro becomes sixth space agency in world after US, Russia, Japan, China & France to taste success with indigenous cryogenic engine.