By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh): An Indian rocket carrying communication satellite successfully lifted off from the Sriharikota spaceport here Sunday.
The Rs.365 crore launch mission has twin purpose – to flight test the cryogenic engine designed and built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and to put in orbit communication satellite GSAT-14.
Precisely at 4.18 p.m., the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Development 5 (GSLV D5) with a deep roar rose into sky with a thick orange flame at its tail, breaking away from the second launch pad here at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
The 49.13-metre tall rocket weighing 414.75 tonnes is expected to sling the 1,982 kg GSAT-14 in the intended orbit around 17 minutes into the flight.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was to launch this rocket last August but aborted the mission just hours before the deadline as the fuel started leaking from its second stage or engine.
ISRO scientists at the mission control centre here watched their monitors intently to see the rocket’s progress.
A cryogenic engine is more efficient as it provides more thrust for every kilogram of propellant burnt.
This was the first mission of GSLV during the last four years after two such rockets failed in 2010.
One of the GSLV rockets was launched with Indian cryogenic engine and the other one with a Russian engine.
The GSLV is a three stage/engine rocket. The core of first stage is fired with solid fuel while the four strap-on motors by liquid fuel. The second is the liquid fuel and the third is the cryogenic engine.
For the country, ISRO perfecting the cryogenic engine technology is crucial as by launching communication satellites by itself it can help save precious foreign exchange.
Currently, ISRO puts its heavy communication satellites into space by hiring services of European space agency Ariane.
ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan has told IANS that the country pays around $85-90 million or around Rs.500 crore as launch fee for sending up a 3.5-tonne communication satellite. The cost of satellite is separate.
He said the cost of GSLV is Rs.220 crore.
The ISRO can send smaller communication satellites – weighing around two tonnes – till such time it gets ready an advanced GSLV variant – GSLV-Mark III – that can lug satellites weighing around four tonnes.