India eyes manned space missions after successful satellite launch

Andrew Cummings
June 8, 2017

The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III is the heaviest rocket ever made by India.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has been promoting the home-grown space programme as a demonstration of low-priced technology and in February it launched 104 satellites in a single mission, a lot of them for foreign customers.

Called the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV MkIII), the new rocket lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India, at 7:58 a.m. EDT (1158 GMT), successfully delivering the massive GSAT-19 communications satellite into orbit. The launch vehicle also had the communication satellite GSAT 19 on board which was separated opportunely.

"Congratulations to the dedicated scientists of ISRO for the successful launch of GSLV - MKIII D1/GSAT-19 mission".

After its separation from the GSLV MKIII in geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), GSAT-19 will use its own propulsion system to reach its geostationary orbital home.

"This is an important moment in India's space technology to launch an indigenous heavy rocket", Ajay Lele from the Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses revealed.

"If there was no sanction, we would have operationalised GSLV Mk-II in 1999".

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. These rockets use solid, liquid and cryogenic engines.

GSLV Mark III has double the capacity of its predecessor GSLV Mark II in terms of its payload carrying capacity. It also finds the influence of space radiation on the satellites and their electronic components. All these five nations earlier have successfully introduced such weighty satellites and India will be the sixth country to join this elite club. The launch was simply meant to test the rocket's structural ability and aerodynamics while in flight.

GSLV Mk III is created to carry 4 ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which is about twice the capability of GSLV Mk II.

The technology has not come easy - India's space agency has spent about 15 years to develop the heavy lift rocket.

In the near future, this rocket is expected to carry Indian astronauts into space.

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