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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Launch of GSLV-D3, India's first cryogenic rocket, fails

SRIHARIKOTA: India's GSLV-D3 powered by homegrown cryogenic engine for the first time failed in its mission as the rocket carrying a communication satellite deviated from its path and went out of control shortly after its lift-off from the spaceport here on Thursday.

"The mission objectives are not met fully. There are indications that the cryogenic engine ignited but the vehicle was tumbling and controllability lost," ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan said.

The 49-metre tall three-stage Geo Synchronous Launch Vehicle
blasted off at 4.27pm at the end of a 29-hour countdown but minutes later ISRO said it had stopped receiving data.

"We saw the vehicle tumbling uncontrollably and it developed deviation. Two vernier engines would not have ignited," Radhakrishnan, for whom it was the first mission after taking over as ISRO chief, told mission scientists as gloom descended on the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

He said details of the flight data would be analysed to find out what went wrong. Radhakrishnan said performence of the vehicle was normal upto the "burn out" of the second stage.

In the crucial cryogenic stage, indications were that the onboard computer had given signals to burn and the cryogenic engine had ignited. However, "we saw the vehicle tumbling."

"We neeed to go a long way and do that (launch the mission successfully) within the next year," Radhakrishnan told the scientists while complimenting them for their "18 years of hard work" to develop the complex cryogenic technology.

Underlining ISRO's commitment to carry on with cryogenic stage rocket programme, he said the next flight will be carried out within a year.

"It was an event of 18 years working with complex technology. Upto the level of carrying (the vehicle) is a major accomplishment," he said.

The GSLV flight was to have placed the 2,200 kg advanced communication satellite GSAT-4, into Geo Transfer Orbit. The GSAT-4 is a state-of-the-art satellite that carries communication and navigation payloads.

ISRO had invested Rs 330 crore for the prestigious mission whose succesful would have placed India in the elite club of space faring powers US, Russia, China, Japan, and Europe which possess the cryogenic technology.

India began developing the cryogenic engine as its answer to technology denial regime as the US not only refused the technology but also put pressure on Russia to backtrack on its commitment to New Delhi. Earlier GSLV flights were powered by the ready-to-fly cryogenic engines supplied by Russia.

Cryogenic engines, giving additional thrust, help in launching heavier satellites into geo-synchronous transfer orbits (GTO) at an altitude of 36,000 km over the equator.

The engine uses liquid hydrogen at -265°Celsius as fuel and liquid oxygen at -240°C as oxidiser and cryogenic development is considered complex as involves very low temperatures of the propellants.

The countries which had mastered the "highest level" of propulsion technology had kept it closely guarded.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Launch-of-GSLV-D3-Indias-first-cryogenic-rocket-fails/articleshow/5811717.cms

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