Sriharikota: Continuing its success spree, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) on Monday launched its heaviest satellite yet, the G-SAT 19, into Geo-Transfer Orbit (GTO) onboard the agency’s heaviest launcher to date — the GSLV Mk III — from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Shar, Sriharikota in Nellore district, catapulting India into the small league of space-faring nations that are capable of launching four-tonne class satellites.
It was the GSLV Mk III’s first orbital mission, with an indigenous cryogenic stage.
With two muscular solid strap-on boosters, a large liquid power stage and a homegrown cryogenic upper stage, the 640-tonne three-stage Mk III rocket took off majestically into the clear skies from the second launch pad at SDSC exactly at 5.28 pm as per schedule as those assembled to watch the launch, from the scientists at the launch centre to the media and people far outside the space centre, cheered. A little more than 16 minutes later, it had injected the 3.2-tonne G-SAT 19 satellite into GTO. The satellite will be later moved into its allotted Geostationary orbit by firing its engines.
A beaming Isro chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar said it was a historic day and congratulated team Isro.
“The mood is now upbeat inside the Mission Control Centre, but there were butterflies in the stomach until the cryogenic stage ignited, although we were confident of success because of the 199 tests we conducted on the stage before launching,” Mr Kiran Kumar told journalists.
Over 700 employees involved in Isro triumph
Isro scientists and engineers said the success of Mk III, which stands as tall as a 12-storey building, has ended India’s dependence on foreign space agencies to launch heavy satellites into high orbit. It has been a 15-year-long effort to develop the capability, but it has finally paid off, they added.
More than 700 employees from various units of Isro that were involved in producing sub-systems for Mk III were present at Shar and witnessed the launch with pride.
Isro built on the existing capabilities it had, thanks to its record with the PSLV rocket, while also developing the cryogenic stage indigenously. The S200 strap-on motors of Mk III are an updated version of the S139 solid motor of PSLV. Similarly, the L110 liquid boosters of the vehicle consist of two clustered Vikas engines, which have served on the PSLV....