GSLV-D5 launch puts India in select club of spacefarers

ISRO heavy rocket GSLV-D5 cruised through the Earth`s atmosphere to successfully place GSAT-14 communications satellite into the orbit on Sunday.

Zee Media Bureau/Liji Varghese

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 Saturday 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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