Monday, September 03, 2007

Successful GSLV launch and the salvaged Indian Pride..

It was the launch of Sputnik by the Russians in 1957 which sparked the imagination of the father of Indian space programme Dr Vikram Sarabhai to dream of being able to explore outer space for the benefit and development of India. With the guidance from Jawaharlal Nehru, the then father of Indian Nuclear programme Homi Bhabha started the Indian Space Programme under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). He called it the Indian National Committee for Space research (INCOSPAR) with Dr Sarabhai as Chairman in 1962. From launching the first US made Nike-Apache sounding rockets in 1962 to the photo perfect launch of GSLV F04 on 2 September 2007, India Space Programme has come a long way.

The photo (courtesy The Hindu, L to R, B N Suresh, Director VSSC, TVM, G Ravindranath, Mission Director GSLV, Dr. G Madhavan Nair, Chairman ISRO and Prahalada Rao, Satellite Director, Satellite Director Insat 4 CR) showing a jubilant launch team. Dr. G. Madhavan Nair has credited the large team of Scientists and Engineers from all of ISRO for the success of the GSLV launch.

The Geo-Stationary Satellite Launch Vehicle -GSLV F04, blasted off in a perfect liftoff at 6.21 PM on 2 nd September 2007 from the Satish Dhawan Launch Centre, Sriharikotta, AP and placed the 2130 kg Insat - 4CR satellite in GSO and an Israeli spy satellite in low earth orbit.

There are mainly two technologies, and some other in developing, which have been demonstrated to the world by the proud Engineers and Scientists of ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organisation carrying and coordinating their work from different parts of the country. From Space Applications Centre,Ahmedabad, to Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Trivandrum, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore, Satish Dhawan launch centre, Sriharikotta, and doing post launch monitoring from the Master Control facility at Hassan, Karnataka.

The first technology is of the launch vehicle, The GSLV, the geostationary launch vehicle, capable of placing satellites in geosynchronous orbits. By this successful launch, in the words of the Chairman ofISRO, Dr Madhavan Nair, the reliability and dependability of the most powerful GSLV systems now in it's fifth launch have been demonstrated to the world. Of the earlier five launches, GSLV D1, D2, F01, F02 and now the F04, only the fourth one, GSLV F02, launched in July 2006 was aborted 56 seconds after launch due to loss of developed thrust in one of the four strap-on liquid propellant motors. All these GSLVs have placed satellites ranging from 1950 kgs (Edusat) to 2350 kgs in Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). The GSLV has the cryogenic third stage (the cryogenic engines have been given by Russia and indigenous technology is in an advanced stage having already been demonstrated for time duration of about a minute). This launch is a morale booster for the next stageGSLV - MIII which can place heavier payloads in GTO.

The second technology was that of the capability to build advanced satellites for the communication system in the country. The INSAT ( Indian National Satellite) is the largest satellite communication system in the Asia Pacific region with ten satellites in service. TheINSAT 4CR has 12 Ku transponders and is a boost for the DTH transmission in the country, can enhance Digital News Gathering Service (DNGS), VSAT and other high bit rate data transmission services besides meteorological imaging.

Antrix Corporation, the commercial wing of ISRO, interacting with customers wanting to launch payloads into space, ia happy as India now offers low cost launching of payloads, which is a direct threat to the other major space technology powers of US, Russia, China and France. With indigenous development of cryogenic technology which provides more thrust for each kilogram of on board propellant burnt, in comparison to the solid and liquid first and second stages, the cost of launches can be brought down still further, The augmentation of theGSLV MIII series will be a big booster as heavy combination of payloads (upto 4 tonnes) can be launched in a single launch. The supersonic scramjet reusable launch vehicles will bring down the payload launching costs to one tenth of what it is today. Presently India is the only country besides US which has developed the air-breathing, super sonic scramjet technology, which is being developed further for early commercialisation.

george easaw

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