ISRO joins cryogenic rocket club with successful launch of GSLV-D5

Sriharikota: Leaving behind its past failures, Indian
Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) heavy
rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-
Development 5 (GSLV-D5) cruised through the
Earth’s atmosphere to successfully place GSAT-14
communications satellite into the orbit on Sunday. GSLV-D5 with the indigenous cryogenic engine
lifted-off successfully as per schedule from the
spaceport at Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh at 4.18
pm today. The 29-hour countdown for the launch
began yesterday at 11.18 am. With the successful launch of GSLV-D5 flight India has now
become the sixth nation to possess the cryogenic
engine technology, and has joined the elite club of
the United States, Russia, France, Japan and
China. The Rs 356 crore mission’s success comes as a
big relief for ISRO after two back-to-back failures of
the GSLV flights in 2010 — the first, with an
indigenous cryogenic engine, on April 15 and the
next, with a Russian cryogenic engine, on
December 25. The last GSLV launch on August 19, 2013 was called off minutes before the take-off due
to leakage of liquid fuel from the rocket’s second
stage, wetting the first stage and the four strap-on
boosters around it. A cryogenic engine is more efficient as it provides
more thrust for every kilogram of propellant burnt.
Cryogenic fuels are extremely clean as they give
out only water while burning. The successful flight of 49.13 metre tall rocket
weighing 414.75 tonnes is the first step towards
building rockets that can carry heavier payloads, up
to four tonnes. The cryogenic engine technology
will help the Indian agency save precious foreign
exchange by launching communication satellites by itself than depending on foreign rockets. According to ISRO, several design changes had
been incorporated in GSLV-D5 rocket after studying
the past GSLV rockets and reasons behind their
failure. Design changes were made in the lower shroud/
cover that protects the 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 space agency also reverted to 3.4 metre heat
shield to protect the satellite. The last GSLV rocket
that failed had a four-metre heat shield. One of the earlier GSLV rockets had problems in its
aerodynamics. Other changes included video imaging of lower
shroud movement during various flight phases, fuel
booster in cryogenic engine, and engine’s ignition
sequence. The cuboid shaped Rs. 45 crore GSAT-14 is India’s
23rd geostationary satellites built by ISRO. It has a
life span of 12 years. The 1,982 kg satellite carries six extended C-band
and Ku-band transponders (receivers and
transmitters of signals), and two Ka-band becons.
The satellite will be used for telemedicine and tele-
education services.

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