ISRO rules out sabotage in GSLV launch

ISRO rules out sabotage in GSLV launch

ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan addresses a press conference after the GSLVD3 launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on Thursday. PTIThe three-stage ‘Geosynchronous Satellite Launch vehicle (GSLV)’, carrying a state-of-the-art ‘GSAT-4’ satellite with advanced communication and navigation payloads, splashed into the sea on Thursday evening after a splendid, roaring takeoff from Satish Dhawan Space Centre here. The rocket’s third stage CUS ‘probably not igniting’ resulted in the satellite not being thrust into ‘Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO)’, 36,000 km over the equator.

Dr Radhakrishnan told a packed news conference here late on Thursday evening that it was a stepping stone to success and that such failures were common when a ‘very complex’ technology like cryogenics– a rocket stage using liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen at very low temperatures to provide more thrust- had to be mastered. “The vehicle was tumbling (on entering the third most critical cryogenic stage); it lost control, lost its altitude and finally splashed down into the sea,” the ISRO Chief said. Only a detailed analysis of all the flight data by ISRO scientists including telemetry and tracking data will reveal “what exactly happened and how” and this would take two to three days, he stressed.

Though in his initial statement Dr Radhakrishnan had said that probably the two smaller cryogenic engines “would not have ignited”, he later clarified that it was based on preliminary data. He made clear that the non-ignition of the main cryogenic engine “is yet to be confirmed” and that will have to await an in-depth analysis of the data.
While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is now abroad, has already been informed about the developments, the ISRO chief to a query said that the cost of Thursday’s mission came to about Rs.330 crore. The cryogenic engine alone cost Rs 180 crore.
Unable to immediately confirm the time after lift-off when the third stage failed, Dr Radhakrishnan said that the scientists at the ‘Mission Control Centre’ here gave no ‘abort signal’ as the ‘range safety’ equipment continuously monitoring the rocket’s path and the corridors it traversed did not beep any alarm of GSLV-D3 plunging into “any dangerous zone” below. There was no plan now to recover the space debris from the sea, he added.

The ISRO chief also did not think that Thursday’s debacle would delay the ‘Chandrayaan-II’ moon mission slated for 2013 on board a ‘GSLV’ flight. As two more Russian-supplied cryogenic engines were with ISRO, it planned two more ‘GSLV’ flights with them, he said. The first ‘GSAT-5P’ a communication satellite will be launched in September this year, he said.

Early May 2010, ISRO has planned a ‘PSLV’ launch to put into orbit ‘CARTOSAT-2B’ satellite, he said. But the next ‘GSLV’ flight with indigenous cryogenic engine would have to wait at least a year, he noted. Defending the cost competitiveness of GSLV, Dr Radhakrishnan said that the cryogenic engines were still 50 per cent lower cheaper than importing it.

Agency chief turns to Gita for comfort
Unfazed by the very first space mission failure since he took over as the ISRO Chairman, Dr K Radhakrishnan on Thursday night took comfort from a verse in the ‘Bhagavat Gita’ to tide over his dilemma after GSLV-D3 flight crashed, reports DHNS from Sriharikota.  Quoting a ‘shloka’ from the Gita, encapsuling Lord Krishna’s advise to a diffident Arjuna in the ‘Mahabaratha’ battlefield beginning with the words, “Karmanyeva Adhikaarasthe Maa Phaleshu Kadha Chana”, the ISRO chief said one’s mission was to simply do one’s duty with all the dedication.
“It is our duty to do the job to the best of our abilities, irrespective of success or failure; certainly it will lead to success (eventually),” Dr Radhakrishnan quipped philosophically, at a post-launch press conference here late on Thursday evening when he was asked how he felt about the very first mission “failing” after he took over as ISRO chief. 

Hits and Misses
The 2001 maiden flight of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) failed to attain success as it was not able to sling GSAT-1 into the intended orbit.
The only two successful launches by the Indian Space Research Organisation were in 2003 and 2004  when ISRO successfully put into space GSAT-2 and Edusat, an educational satellite.

 The 2006 flight was historic for a dubious reason. For the first time ISRO destroyed the rocket mid-air after the take-off as it started backing up.
 The last GSLV flight to     take-off was in 2007, which is considered a partial success.
The GSLV-D3 mission that failed on Thursday was the sixth launch by India. Within minutes of the launch, the rocket deviated from its path.
The next GSLV launch with an Indian-made cryogenic engine will be within a year.

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