12 Minute Read: How will it Help India ?


Summary

  • India launches its heaviest rocket ever GSLV Mark 3
  • Opens up market for 4000 kg satellite launch market for India
  • ISRO to overtake spaceX in coming days

All about the BUZZ

Indian scientist are on a roll and great news coming from the great brains of India. Yesterday (4th June) India successfully test fired its indigenously developed Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QR-SAM) for the first time using Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) interceptor missile, capable of killing incoming missiles at an altitude of more than 100 km at exo-atmospheric zone.
And today (5th June) ISRO successfully launched its heaviest rocket GSLV Mk-III that can pullup heavy satellite as heavy as 4 ton = 4000 kg.

About the satellite and launch

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched a communication satellite on June 5
  • The satellite is called GSAT-19 which was launched using ISRO heaviest rocket GSLV Mark-III.
  • Actual weight of GSAT-19 satellite is 3,136-kg.
  • The satellite GSAT-19 carries Ka/Ku-band high throughput communication transponders, besides the geostationary radiation spectrometer (GRASP) payload that would monitor and study the nature of charged particles and the influence of space radiation on satellites and their electronic components.

About the rocket GSLV (point of discussion)

Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk— III) was used by ISRO to launch the heavy satellite. Some details of the launch and rocket below:

  • Launch venue – port at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, India
  • Indigenous rocket that means self-made by Indians
  • It is capable of launching 4-tonne satellites to the geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO). 4 ton = 4000 kg = as heavy as 200 fully grown elephants probably
  • It is a three-stage vehicle with two solid motor strap-ons (S200), a liquid propellant core stage (L110) and a cryogenic stage (C25).
  • GSLV Mk-III-D1 is the first developmental flight
  • It is the maiden experimental launch of GSLV—Mk III earlier named Launch Vehicle Mark—3
  • Even though the rocket can carry 4 ton of payload, the actual load weighs little less than 4000 kg to ensure that there is proper launch and execution considering it is done at initial stage.
  • GSLV Mark-III can loft satellites weighing up to 4,000 kg, which is double the load that the GSLV Mk-II can lift.
  • The new GSLV—Mk III is an all new vehicle designed and developed in India and in 2014 a sub—orbital successful test of this vehicle was conducted to understand how it performs in the atmosphere. The rocket never went into space but helped test India’s future astronaut capsule. It had a dummy cryogenic engine and was a single stage vehicle.
  • Even though the GSLV—Mk III is 43m tall, making it the shortest of the three big Indian rockets, it carries a huge punch as it weighs almost 1.5 times heavier than India’s next biggest rocket the GSLV Mk—2 and almost twice as heavy as India’s PSLV.
  • The massive first stage along with strap—on boosters weighs 610 tons and comprises multiple engines all firing nearly simultaneously. It is the second stage which is all together a new animal for this mammoth rocket, it is a novel Indian cryogenic engine that weighs about 30 tons.
  • The new cryogenic engine is being tested on a fully functional rocket for the first time and it is the development of this technology that uses liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as propellant is what took more than 15 years for Indians to master.

History with Indian rockets

Initial days were not very good for INDIA and ISRO’s track record suggests that FIRST launches of its rockets often end up in failure. But considering the complexity in technology and LITTLE money put into R&D, the achievement so far has been quite commendable. Not that, other countries who have invested billions of dollars have succeeded in the first attempt either.

  • The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) failed on its maiden launch in 1993 and since then it has had 38 consecutively successful launches.
  • The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk—1 (GSLV Mk—1) failed in 2001 and since then it has 11 launches with half of them successful.
  • India already has two operational rockets —

The first one, PSLV that can hoist satellites of 1.5 tons into space and was the preferred vehicle for India’s maiden mission to Moon and Mars.

The second, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark II can hoist 2 ton class of satellites and because of its repeated failures it has dubious reputation.

  • Between them, ISRO has done 50 launches and recently even earned a world record by successfully placing 104 satellites in orbit.
  • With successful launch of GSLV—Mk III, the long standing jinx has finally been broken..

Problems and Benefits

​Problems with space program so far –

  • Today India uses the French Ariane—5 rocket launched from Kourou in South America to place its heavy 4 ton class of communication satellites.
  • Every time, India wants to launch any satellite more than 2000 kg, ISRO needs to knock the doors of European rocket makers. This makes the process very challenging as well as a very costly affair.

Benefits with the GSLV mk IIII launch

ISRO has been eying the multi—billion dollar launch market and it is taking baby steps but quite fast.

 

  • GSLV mk IIII will enable Isro to launch communications spacecraft to geostationary orbits of 36,000 kms from India.
  • It completely reduces dependency on foreign launchers as everything is indigenous.
  • The GSLV Mk III rocket is expected to help the country save costs by cutting down on expenditure on launching heavy satellites through foreign space agencies.
  • This achievement will be able to attract foreign customers to use ISRO’s new launch vehicle as 4-ton is a good range for communication satellites, and most countries want it.
  • It is estimated that the new rocket costs a whopping Rs. 300 Cr, but India would end up saving almost as much by being self-dependent and it also becomes a new source of revenue by launching heavy satellite for other countries.

Next Step

  • Electric propulsion-Global communication satellite scenario has gone up to 6 to 6.5 tons at the moment while India is still at 4 ton.
    It is interesting to note that in a 6 ton or above satellite launch program, the major weight comes from heavy satellite and huge mass of propellants that are used for keeping long life of satellite.
    So, if the satellites switch over to electric propulsion from chemical propulsion, the mass could be kept at 4-ton level. And for such a scenario ISRO’s GSLV Mk III will be good enough. So ISRO is exploring this option of electric propulsion very keenly. This will bring in a revolution if successful and be a game changer for ISRO.
    Comparable vehicle (for GSLV Mk III) today is Ariane-6 which is getting developed in Europe, which also weighs about 6.5 tons.
  • Human venture-GSLV Mk 3 is a very heavy lift rocket that is capable of placing up to 8 tons in a low Earth orbit, enough to carry India’s crew module.There are plans of hoisting a 2—3 member human crew into space as soon as the government sanctions the plan. However it might cost quite heavy as high as 3—4 billion dollars.If the human venture materialises, India would become only the fourth country after Russia, the US and China to have a human space flight program.

Conclusion

In recent times India has achieved remarkably in space technology. And with this pace, it can be assumed that very soon, India will be among the forerunner in this department of mind and technology.


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