India: In yet another historic moment for India, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which has been touching the skies with back-to-back feats, on Monday successfully launched the 3,136-kg communication satellite GSAT-19 aboard its heaviest rocket GSLV Mk-III D1 aka ‘Fat Boy’.
The launch of ISRO’s GSLV Mk-III took place from second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota at 5:20 PM. The Indian space agency said earlier on Monday that the countdown process for its GSLV Mk-III launch was “progressing normally”.
ISRO kick-started the 25-and-half hour countdown for the launch on Sunday at 3:58 PM. The scientists were involved in propellant filling operations of the heaviest GSLV-MkIII D1, officials said.
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to twitter to congratulate the ISRO scientists for their big feat. In a twitter post, Modi said, “GSLV-MkIII D1/Gsat-19 mission takes India closer to the next generation launch vehicle and satellite capability. The nation is proud.”
On the other hand, calling it a “historic day”, ISRO chief A S Kiran Kumar said, “I wish to congratulate the entire team which has relentlessly worked each day for the launch from 2002.” The PM called Kumar and congratulated each member of the ISRO team for the successful mission.
ISRO had faced several setbacks since 1970s when it started developing technology to launch satellites. Starting from the first experimental launch of Satellite Launch Vehicle-3 (SLV-3) on August 10, 1979, thereafter the first developmental launch of Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV) carrying SROSS-1 satellite on March 24, 1987, and later the developmental launch of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) carrying IRS-IE satellite on September 20, 1993, ISRO had failed in all these debut launches.
Though the US sanctions on India in 1992 prevented the country from getting cryogenic engine technology from Russia, it failed to halt ISRO’s relentless effort to develop rocket and cryogenic engine technologies.
Overcoming the initial hurdles, the PSLV rocket has over a period of time emerged as the most reliable and versatile workhorse launch vehicle with 38 consecutive successful missions since October 1994. Between 1994 and 2017, PSLV has launched 46 indigenous and 180 foreign satellites.
The GSLV space program too faced many challenges in initial years. On July 10, 2006, during the second operational flight of GSLV with INSAT-4C satellite on board, the rocket fell into the sea and the satellite could not be placed into the desired orbit. Again, on April 15, 2010, GSLV-D3 developmental flight carrying GSAT-4 on board plunged into the sea.
The space agency received another jolt on December 25, 2010 when its GSLV-F06 launch was unsuccessful due to a snag in Stage-I of the rocket. Despite the initial setbacks, GSLV Mk II was developed and the rocket, fired by an indigenously made cryogenic engine, had four consecutive successful launches since January 2014.
On May 5 this year, the fourth GSLV Mk II rocket made PM Narendra Modi’s dream project a reality when it successfully launched ‘South Asia satellite’, which was India’s ‘free gift’ to friendly SAARC neighbours.
The successful launch of GSLV Mk III+ , which cost ISRO Rs 300 crore, has also set the stage for ISRO’s manned mission. Not only the rocket, the GSLV Mk III launch has also proved the efficiency of CE20 indigenous cryogenic engine, a completely new technology designed to double the thrust and capability to lift double the payload than the previous GSLV Mk II, which could only carry a 2-tonne payload. The development of this advanced India-developed engine has put India into an elite club of nations -US, European Space Agency, Russia, China and Japan-which have mastered the cryogenic engine technology’.