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Countdown for India`s ambitious rocket mission begins

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 - 14:25

Sriharikota (AP): The 29-hour countdown for Thursday’s launch of a homegrown rocket GSLV-D3 powered for the first time by indigenous cryogenic technology ticked today (Wednesday) without any hitches and a successful mission will put India in an elite five-nation group.

Nearly 18 years after Indian scientists began working to develop the complex cryogenic engines, it will be for the first time that ISRO will be flight-testing the strategic technology, which is crucial to put communication satellites weighing more than two tonnes into geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO). Geosynchronous orbit is 36,000 km above earth.

The 29-hour countdown began at 11.27 am and "things were progressing as per countdown", an Indian Space Research Organisation spokesperson said.

The 50-metre tall GSLV-D3 with the country`s latest communication satellite GSAT-4 on board is scheduled to blast off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 4.27 pm tomorrow. The 2,220 kgs GSAT-4 satellite has a seven-year mission life.

It took nearly two decades for Indian scientists to go in for a home-made cryogenic technology after its bid to acquire cryogenic propellant from Russia in 1992 failed in the face of US opposition. US, Russia, Japan, France and China are the only countries to have developed this complex technology.

The development of the cryogenic technology did not materialise for long due to strong US opposition and "technology denial regime of big powers", Director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre M C Dathan said.

"Often in the past, we have purchased completed cryogenic engines from Russia and five of them had been used for our GSLV missions. But we felt that it was important to develop indigenous capability as cryogenic technology is crucial to take our space programme to new heights," he said.

"It was a `milestone` for Indian space programme in many ways and proved `our capabilities and reflects our scientists` determination to take up any challenge," he said.

Apart from the first time use of ‘made in India’ cryogenic technology, the launch also involve one of the heaviest satellites ever put in space by Indian satellite launch vehicles.

The successful launch of the GSAT-4 will elevate India?s growing status as a space faring nation putting it in the league of a handful of nations that can launch satellites weighing above two tonnes in the geo synchronous orbit.


First Published: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 - 14:25

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