After textbook debut, GSLV Mark-III ready for moon

M Ramesh Sriharikota (AP) | Updated on November 14, 2018

After the sucessfull launch of the GSLV Mk III-D2/GSAT-29 Miission which put GSAT 29 into orbit with the Chairaman ISRO K.Sivan at Sathish Dhawan Space Reach centre at Sriharikota on Wednesday14th November.   -  K. Pichumani/ The Hindu

Deploys GSAT-29 telecommunications satellite successfully into space

The GSLV Mark-III, the heaviest rocket ever launched from the Indian soil, soared majestically heavenward, its orange plume lighting up the evening sky above the Sriharikota rocket launch station, at the southern coastal border of Andhra Pradesh.

The launch was, in the words of Mission Director B Jayakumar, a “grand success”. In its head, the ₹300-crore 640-tonne big-boy carried the 3.4-tonne GSAT-29, a telecommunications satellite.

The GSLV Mark-III, with its two strap-on motors, stood like a mother with her twins on either side, with anxious rocket-men waiting for the countdown. At precisely 5 pm, the 43.49-m giant shook off its moorings at the second launch pad at Sriharikota in a massive ball of fire and began its 17-minute journey into the heavens. When it reached a height of 207.57 km, exactly 16 minutes and 43 seconds after it blasted off, the rocket ejected the GSAT-29. When it emerged, the satellite was travelling at 10 km a second — at that speed, it would have covered the distance between Delhi and Mumbai in less than two-and-a-half minutes.

Knowledge, self-acquired

The satellite will eventually be manoeuvred to round the Earth in an elliptical path —coming as close to the Earth as 190 km and turning back towards the planet when it reaches 35,975 km. However, no matter where it is, the satellite will be above India to receive and send back communications signals. As rockets go, the Mark-III is but a dwarf compared with its developed-country peers. (The Saturn V, which took the first men to the Moon was nearly three times taller than Mark-III) But India’s state-owned space agency, ISRO, feels a sense of achievement because its knowledge of rocket science is largely self-acquired, on a shoe-string budget.

The significance of the Mark-III is that it considerably reduces India’s dependence on foregn launchers for taking up its heavy satellites. Now that the two developmental launches of the Mark- III have been completed (the first was in June, 2017), the rocket has been declared fit for operational runs, the first of which is likely to be in January, for the Chandrayaan-2 moon mission.

If the rocket is significant for its muscle, satellite GSAT-29 is equally heady. If its transponders are to serve remote regions of Jammu & Kashmir and the North-East, it also features three hi-tech gadgets — a Q/V-Band communications payload, an optical communication payload and a high resolution camera. All the three are demonstration gadgets. The first two are used mainly for inter-satellite and space-to-space communications.

Published on November 14, 2018

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