A GIANT LEAP FORWARD FOR ISRONergal Scott
ISRO NOW HAS THE CAPABILITY TO PLACE SATELLITES WEIGHING UP TO TWO TONNES IN THE GEOSTATIONARY ORBIT WHERE COMMUNICATION SATELLITES ARE PARKED.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has added yet another feather to its cap when it successfully launched its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-MK-II to place a weather communication satellite in the desired orbit. India has become one of the few countries with such an ability. ISRO now has the capability to place satellites weighing up to two tonnes in the geostationary orbit where communication satellites are parked.
What makes this launch all the more significant is ISRO’s mastery of the cryogenic engine usage. The indigenously developed system is quite complex and ISRO used every failure as a stepping stone to reach this stage. And, in keeping with its motto of excellence, it has set its sights on developing another engine, the C-25, which would be twice as powerful as the present one. The GSLV-MK-III is also scheduled for launch in December. The demand for launching communication satellites has been increasing as more and more countries and even institutions like universities want their own satellites in orbit. But there are not enough countries or companies which can undertake such a task. In other words, India is capable of providing competitive communication satellite launching facilities. Globally, the size of the satellite business is about $330 billion, of which launch services account for $5 billion. Thanks to its war horse, the PSLV, ISRO is already very much in the game, offering launch services at an affordable price tag.
With the GSLV also in its armoury, the space organisation has taken a giant leap forward and is well placed both commercially and in space exploration. ISRO Chairman Kiran Kumar has revealed that several missions, including one to the Venus and the moon (Chandrayaan-II), are in the offing. With the organisation developing a space shuttle too, this is indeed an exciting time not only for ISRO and its brilliant scientists but also the country.
The successful launch of over two-tonne satellite has put India in the elite league of nations able to lift up such heavy satellites in the geostationary orbit. Only five other nations — US, Russia, France, Japan and China, have the cryogenic engine technology to lift such heavy satellites.
While talking of the dimensions, the GSLV-F05 rocket is 161-fot-tall. After few failures during the initial development phases, the rocket has had three consecutive successful flights including the one on Thursday. A solid-fueled first stage motor and four strap-on Vikas engines consuming a mixture of liquid hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide powered the initial two minutes of the ascent. It took 17 minutes for the GSLV with cryogenic engine to release the satellite into the planned orbit of Earth.
The successful launch has given India another rocket after PSLV which India’s most successful rocket. However, GSLV will be used in future to launch heavyweight satellites.
Apparently, the successful launch of India’s weather observatory has increased the reputation of Indian space agency ISRO in the international satellite launch market worth $300 billion. After the success of missions like Mangalyaan that won the Space Pioneer award 2015 and got featured in Times Magazine, and Chandrayaan, foreign agencies have started seeking help of ISRO for their satellite launches. ISRO has launched 51 foreign satellites till date.
Moreover, two more GSLV-MkII missions will be completed this year. In addition, ISRO is developing C-25 engine which will twice powerful than the current version having the capability to lift satellite weighing over 4,000kg.