Zee Media Bureau
Chennai: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) began the test-fly of its heaviest and upgraded rocket - the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-Mark III) - on Wednesday from Sriharikota space station, near Chennai.
The GSLV Mark-III flight is being seen as the next crucial step in India's space programme history after the successful launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission.
"The 24 and a half hour countdown for the mission has commenced at 9 AM on December 17," ISRO said.
The Mission Readiness Review and the Launch Authorisation Board, which met yesterday, has cleared the launch for December 18 at 9.30 AM, it said.
A senior ISRO official explained that the lesser duration of the countdown for the mission was due to the dummy cryogenic stage.
The 630 ton rocket will be powered by liquid and solid fuel engines while the cryogenic stage/engine will be a passive one.
As per the plan, soon after the lift-off at Sriharikota, ISRO would study the flight validation of the complex atmospheric flight regime of LVM 3 and would also test the ability of the CREW module to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere with thermal resistance, parachute deployment in cluster formation, aero braking system and apex cover separation procedures.
The CREW module would be separated from the rocket about 325.52 seconds after the lift-off at 126.16 km altitude. The rocket will go up to 126 km and then crew capsule will be detached and it will 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. The capsule will be recovered by an Indian Coast Guard or Indian Navy ship.
The Indian government has not approved any human mission to space presently. Realisation of 42.4 metre tall GSLV Mk-III would help ISRO place heavier satellites into orbit.
GSLV Mk III is conceived and designed to make ISRO fully self-reliant in launching heavier communication satellites of INSAT-4 class, which weigh 4,500 to 5,000 kg. It would also enhance India's capability to be a competitive player in the multi-million dollar commercial launch market.
(With Agency inputs)