Indian Space Research Organisation, abbreviated as ISRO is making great strides in putting India at the forefront of vast and yet unknown field of space research.The latest feat to join the long list of achievements is successfully blasting communication satellite GSAT-14 with indigenously developed GSLV. The launch vehicle is powered by cryogenic engine to lift-off heavy payloads.
What is GSAT-14 and GSLV-D5?
GSAT-14 is a communication satellite built by ISRO to augment the capacity of transmitters in C and Ku-bands. It’s India’s 23rd geostationary comm. satellite and its predecessors were launched by GSLV in 2001, 2003, 2004 and then in 2007.
Along with the satellite, what made the lift-off and delivery successful is the GSLV-D5 (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle- Development 5) which is wholly developed in India and specializes in carrying satellites which are in the two-tonne class. It’s quite heavy at 414.75 tonnes and has the height of 49.13 metres.
The total cost of this project was Rs 356 crores.
From where GSAT-14 was blasted?
The satellite was launched from ISRO’s spaceport- Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, which is approximately 80km from Chennai (Andhra Pradesh).
The launch took place on Sunday at 4:18 pm exactly after 29-hour countdown which started on Saturday at 11:18 am. At 4:42 pm, the GSAT-14 was inserted into the orbit.
What technologies made the launch possible?
It was a three stage process: 1st one is fired with solid fuel, the 2nd one is with liquid fuel and the 3rd is the cryogenic engine.
The third stage is the most crucial and difficult and scientists have to work tirelessly to ensure that eh cryogenic engine blasts off successfully.
What the satellite will do?
As noted earlier, the GSAT-14 is a communication satellite and will be used for tele-medicine and tele-education purposes.
Why this launch matters?
In this case the carrier is more important that the load, i.e. as much as the satellite is important, it’s more important to note what made it possible: GSLV-D5. With this launch, India has joined the ranks of only five countries which are able to deliver heavy satellites successfully- United States, Russia, Japan, China and France.
Scientists have been trying to make use of cryogenic fuel technology for nearly 20 years. ISRO also tried to source the technology from United States, but to no avail. Then India started using Russia’s cryo engines for the GSLV programme but still worked on its own technology simultaneously. The GSAT-14 success came after the two successive failures- in April 2010 with an Indian cryogenic engine and then in December 25 the same year with Russian cryogenic engine. Last year’s launch in August 19 was stalled due to fuel leakage just minutes before the take-off.
However, this successful launch has put ISRO back on track. The self-developed Cryogenic engine will also help in significant cost savings to India as it had to pay almost Rs 500 crores to Russia for each launch.
What are ISRO’s future plans?
The GSLV-D5 will be paving the way to the future and builds ISRO confidence for a decade ahead. This technology will be used for important missions such as Chandrayaan-II among many others. But before that organisation aims to thoroughly check the success and failure of cryogenic engines and will be launching more satellites with it. It will also develop better launch vehicle dubbed as GSLV mark III which will be able to handle satellites weighing as much as four tonnes.
Though ISRO also uses PSLV (Polar stationary launch vehicle) for launching satellites with less weight, but going forward, it’ll have satellites weighing more and hence it’s necessary to use GSLV technology powered by cryogenic engine.