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GSLV to be launched on September 1

T.S. Subramanian

Vehicle to put in orbit sophisticated communication satellite —INSAT-4CR


Launch campaign going on quite smoothly, says Suresh, Director VSSC

INSAT-4CR already mated with the launch vehicle


CHENNAI: The launch campaign for the lift-off of the Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F02) from the spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh is getting into top gear and the massive vehicle will ease into the sky at 4.30 p.m. on September 1.

The vehicle will put in orbit a sophisticated communication satellite called INSAT-4CR, weighing 2,130 kg.

“The launch campaign is going on quite smoothly. So far we have not faced any problem,” said B.N. Suresh, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram.

Nerve centre

The VSSC, the nerve centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has built the three-stage GSLV-F02, which is 49 metre-tall and weighs 414 tonnes.

Three stages

The three stages of the vehicle were stacked up in the towering Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) of the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) at Sriharikota.

The satellite INSAT-4CR has already been mated with the vehicle, which will be slowly wheeled on rails to the launch pad by the end of this week.

Dr. Suresh said this GSLV was identical to the previous GSLV launched on July 10, 2006.

The INSAT-4CR is also similar to the INSAT that was to be orbited on that day.

However, that GSLV flight failed and had to be destroyed in mid-flight 56 seconds after the lift-off from Sriharikota when it veered too much from its path.

The debris fell into the Bay of Bengal.

The mission failed because one of the four strap-on motors of the GSLV did not build up enough thrust.

The strap-on booster motors are powered by liquid propellants.

A Failure Analysis Committee headed by K. Narayana, former Director, SDSC, Sriharikota, concluded that the performance of the vehicle’s sub-systems, except one strap-on motor, was normal until 56.4 seconds.

Primary cause

The primary cause of the failure was the sudden loss of thrust in one of the four strap-on motors immediately after the lift-off at 0.2 seconds.

With only three strap-on motors working, the ability to control the vehicle was significantly curtailed, the committee concluded.

Finally, the vehicle broke up in bits and it was also destroyed in mid-flight by firing the explosives wired to the vehicle.

The Range Safety Officer on the ground at Sriharikota pressed the red “destruct” button and the explosives came to life.

A manufacturing defect in the particular strap-on motor doomed the mission.

Design changes

Top ISRO officials said no design changes had been made in the vehicle for the flight on September 1 because the liquid strap-on motors had performed flawlessly in many previous Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles and the GSLVs.

But quality procedures and inspection methods had been tightened for this fight.

DTH television

INSAT-4CR has transponders which will be used for direct-to-home (DTH) television service, video-picture transmission and telecasting news events on a real-time basis, using outside broadcasting vans.

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