A 29-HOUR countdown to the Indian Space Research Organisation’s attempts to master the final frontiers of rocket technology, a mission more fraught with uncertainty than ISRO’s Mars mission, began at 11.18 am at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sri Harikota on Saturday.
ISRO will at 4.18 pm on Sunday attempt to launch its heavy lift Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) using indigenous cryogenic fuel technology a stage in rocket technology crucial to launching manned missions into space and an area where success has eluded ISRO for over six years.
The scheduled launch of the GSLV D5 will be ISRO’s second attempt at deploying indigenously developed cryogenic upper stage fuel technology for its heavy lift rockets after the first attempt on April 15, 2010 ended with the cryogenic third stage of the GSLV failing to fire. A second attempt on August 19, 2013 was aborted.
Indian space scientists have been working on cryogenic fuel technology for nearly 20 years. ISRO had tried to source the technology in the 1990s from the US but was denied the “strategic technology” in the aftermath of the nuclear tests in 1998. ISRO subsequently worked with seven cryo engines provided by Russia for early development of the GSLV programme while working in parallel on its own cryogenic stage for the rocket. GSLV launches with Russian cryo stages have been a mixed bag for ISRO with two fully successful flights and two partially successful flights out of the seven attempted.
The cryogenic technology which enables rockets to place satellites weighing more than 2,000 kg in geo synchronous orbits in space is known to be available to only five countries in the world US, Russia, Japan, France and China.
On Sunday, ISRO will attempt to launch a 1,982 kg Indian communication satellite GSAT 14 aboard its new and improved version of the indigenous GSLV called the GSLV D5.