Chennai: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Friday annonced that it will test-fly its heaviest and upgraded rocket - the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-Mark III) – on December 18 from Sriharikota space station, near Chennai.
According to a tweet by the Indian space agency, the 630-tonne rocket will be powered by liquid and solid fuel engines while the cryogenic stage/engine will be a passive one.
The rocket will also carry a crew module to test its re-entry characteristics.
“The main purpose of the mission is to test the atmospheric characteristics and stability of the rocket on its way up. We also decided to use this opportunity to test one component of the crew module - a human space mission that India may embark on at a later date,” MYS Prasad, director of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, said.
He said the experimental mission will not carry any satellite as the cryogenic engine needed for the purpose is still under development.
"The cryogenic engine is under development and will take two more years to be ready," he said.
The cost of the experimental mission will be Rs 155 crore.
According to S Somanath, GSLV Mark III project director, India's new launch vehicle can carry satellites up to four tonnes.
Since the mission is for study purpose, the rocket will not carry any living being.
The main objective of the crew module is to demonstrate its re-entry flight and aero braking, and end-to-end parachute system validation.
The rocket will go up to 126 km and the crew capsule will then detach and fall into the Bay of Bengal, 20 minutes after blast-off.
The descent speed of the crew module will be controlled on board motors for some distance and then by three parachutes.
The module will splash down 600 km from Port Blair and 1,600 km from the space centre. After that, the capsule will be recovered by an Indian Coast Guard or Indian Navy ship.
The crew module, which weighs around four tonnes, looks like a giant-size cup cake - black on top and brown at the bottom. It is the size of a small bedroom and can accommodate 2-3 people.
The GSLV Mark-III flight is considered the next crucial step in India's nearly 50-year-old space programme after the historic Mars Orbiter Mission.
(With IANS inputs)