Business Standard

Why is Isro's test launch of 'game-changing' rocket important?

The launcher would enable Isro to place satellites weighing more than 4 tonnes in orbit

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

Isro, rocket, launch, GSLV Mark III

Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) plans to undertake next month the first developmental flight of “game-changer” rocket, which can carry satellites weighing 4 tonnes into space from Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh, according to Chairman A S Kiran Kumar.

Currently, the space agency’s geosynchronous launch vehicle (GSLV MK-2) can carry satellites weighing only 2.2 tonnes and depends on international launches to orbit satellites heavier than that.

The is scheduled to be launched during first quarter of 2017 by GSLV-Mk III-D1 launch vehicle from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota. The launcher would carry GSAT-19 which has a mass of 3,200 kg. It is a three-stage vehicle with solid, liquid and cryogenic stages respectively.

Why is this launch so important?

1. Once a four-tonne capacity launch is built, India will be able to reduce its launch dependence from other countries and launch satellites from withing India. As of now, India pays upward of Rs 400 crore to other space agencies.

2. It would employ advanced spacecraft technologies, including bus subsystem experiments in the electrical propulsion system, indigenous Li-ion battery and indigenous bus bars for power distribution.

3. It would enable in self-launching heavier communication satellites of INSAT-4 class, which weigh 4,500 kg to 5,000 kg.

4. It would increase India’s capability to be a competitive player in the multimillion dollar commercial launch market as it envisages launch potential for intermediate circular orbits. It could possibly become a major international player in launching satellites for other countries, getting revenues for the nation.

5. It will most likely augment Isro’s understanding on re-entry and parachute phases of crew module, enabling India to work in direction of sending Indian astronauts to space in coming future.

6. Currently, rockets belonging to the Mark-III class are the workhorse launchers for The United States (US), Russian, European and Chinese space agencies, and with the US scrapping explorations by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), it is pertinent for India to have its own working crew module.

Why is so important?

Satish Dhawan Space Centre located at Sriharikota is on the east coast of India in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

1. Sriharikota being closer to the equator results in fuel saving as the linear velocity of Earth is added to rocket velocity. As most satellites are launched eastward, the base helps the rocket gain velocity of 0.4 km/second.

2. The island is less affected by the western or the eastern monsoon winds. Heavy rains come only in October and November, to test outdoor launch for 10 months in a year.

3. It has large uninhabited areas which provide safety zone for infrastructure and launch facilities.

The would carry Ka and Ku band payload along with a Geostationary Radiation Spectrometer (GRASP) payload to monitor and study the nature of the charged particles and influence of space radiation on spacecraft and electronic components.

The Bengaluru-headquartered space agency plans to undertake the second developmental flight within a year.

First Published: Thu, April 20 2017. 14:51 IST