Bengaluru: India’s space odyssey crossed a milestone on Thursday when a locally made cryogenic engine helped power a rocket that carried an advanced weather satellite to space. The engine has been used only for testing purposes so far.
At 4.50pm, the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (Isro) Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-F05 (GSLV-F05) lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, carrying with it the INSAT-3DR weather satellite.
“GSLV-F05 is the tenth flight of India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). GSLV-F05 is the flight in which the indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) is being carried on-board for the fourth time during a GSLV flight,” Isro said in a statement after the roc -ket launch.
The launch was delayed by about 40 minutes due to time taken to tank up the cryogenic engine.
The 2,211-kg rocket has three stages, and the last stage is fitted with the cryogenic engine which provides a thrust 1.5 times greater than in vehicles propelled by conventional liquid rocket engines. Once launched, the rocket’s engines burn and fall off in stages. At the last stage, the cryogenic engine comes to life and takes the satellite to space. A propulsion puts the INSAT-3DR into a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).
INSAT-3DR has a Data Relay Transponder as well as a Search and Rescue Transponder to assist search and rescue operations of security agencies including all defence forces, the Coast Guard, and in shipping. The vehicle launch will be able to provide meteorological services and continue the INSAT-3D mission, according to Isro.
The INSAT-3DR joins KALPANA-1 and INSAT-3D meteorological satellites currently orbiting in space. INSAT-3D which was launched in 2013 counted features like using Atmospheric Sounding System to monitor weather. INSAT-3DR will be capable of imaging in two thermal infrared bands for estimation of sea surface temperature with better accuracy, as per Isro.
Although delayed by 10 days —the previous launch date was 28 August—the launch will be a test of Isro’s capabilities and programmes to develop indigenous propulsion systems.
On 6 January 2014, Isro launched the first Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle— the GSLV-D5—with an indigenous cryogenic engine, joining the US, Russia, Japan, China and France in a select club of nations capable of developing such technology.
The earlier launches using this technology—GSLV-D5 and GSLV -D6—were a success. The GSLV class of satellites also includes EDUSAT, which is used for distance education and other academic purposes.