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GSLV MkIII launch catapults ISRO into the heavy-payload market

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on January 12, 2018

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Indian space scientists have finally tamed their ‘Naughty Boy’, by successfully demonstrating the capability of the GSLV MkIII launch vehicle in its maiden attempt.

The launch went off in copy book fashion as the lift-off from the Sriharikota Space port in Andhra Pradesh began at 1728 hrs; in 17 minutes, all the manoeuvres were completed with precision. Both the GSLV MkIII, weighing 640 tonnes, and the GSAT-19 satellite with a 3,136-kg payload, are the heaviest in ISRO’s space programme so far.

The success of the first developmental flight of the GSLV MkIII marks a defining moment for the Indian Space Research Organisation. It demonstrates the space agency’s capability to put payloads of 4 tonnes and more into higher orbits, proves the flawless performance of the ‘Made in India’ Vikas cryogenic engine, and paves the way for sending humans into outer space in the long term.

In a way, the launch breaks a major jinx for ISRO, which has over the past three decades, faltered several timesin its first tests, including the GSLV version as well as the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). In a sense, ISRO has finally converted the GSLV into an ‘Obedient Boy’; the success could herald a big leap in India’s space dreams, including in the lucrative heavier payload, commercial market.

Once GSLV MkIII and more advanced versions are fully proved in the next couple of years, ISRO can place 10-tonne payloads.

Historic day

Offering his congratulations to the scientists, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “The... mission takes India closer to the next generation launch vehicle and satellite capability.”

ISRO Chairman A S Kiran Kumar described the launch as an “historic day.” The space agency intends to revolutionise the country’s communication infrastructure with newer-generation satellites, which can take India into the digital era, and bolster internet services and streaming.

The GSLV development programme for ISRO has been the most challenging. It has faced ups and downs and seen technology challenges. The GSLV Mark III version took over one-and-a-half decades of work with investments of around ₹300-350 crore.

As P Kunhikrishnan, Director of the SHAR Satish Dhawan Space Centre, said: “ISRO scientists and participating industries have once again proved the culture of team work.”

Published on June 05, 2017

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