Isro’s GSLV Mk III successfully places GSAT-19 satellite in orbit

05 Jun 2017


The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) today successfully placed its heaviest and most sophisticated communications satellite, the GSAT-19, in orbit using its heaviest and most powerful rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV Mk III-D1), marking the culmination of a 30-year long project.

The heaviest homegrown rocket till date and powered by the indigenously-developed CE-20 cryogenic engine, the GSLV-Mk III-D1, nicknamed `Fat Boy', was launched from the Sriharikota spaceport.

Weighing 640 tonnes and standing 43.43 metres tall, the GSLV MK III is capable of lifting payloads of up to 4,000 kg into the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) and 10,000 kg into the Low Earth Orbit.

Addressing the Media following immediately after the launch, Isro chairman AS Kiran Kumar confirmed that the GSLV MKIII D1/GSAT-19 mission has been successful.

GSLV Mk III–D1, carrying GSAT-19, lifted off as scheduled, at 5:28 pm today, from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

Just over 16 minutes into the flight, the heavy-duty rocket successfully placed the GSAT-19 satellite into the orbit.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Isro on successful launch of the GSLV – MKIII D1/GSAT-19 mission. ''Congratulations to the dedicated scientists of Isro for the successful launch of GSLV MKIII - D1/GSAT-19 mission.

President Pranab Mukherjee also congratulated ISRO scientists on historic launch of India's heaviest rocket.

The successful launch of GSAT-19 satellite is important for India as it is the most powerful communication satellite that India has ever built.

GSAT-19, which will be the equivalent of a constellation of six to seven older varieties of communication satellites in the space, will help stream high speed internet to push India's digital revolution.

The 3,136 kg GSAT-19 satellite with communication transponders will also test technologies such as miniaturised heat pipe, fibre optic gyro, micro electro-mechanical systems accelerometer, Ku-band TTC transponder and indigenous lithium-ion battery.

Of the 41 Indian satellites in-orbit, 13 are communication satellites, including the powerful GSAT-11, according to reports.

The design and development of GSLV-Mk III are based on Isro's own inhouse research and experimentation with solid, liquid and cryogenic rocket propulsion technologies. The CE-20 engine is also less complex than the ones influenced by Russian designs.

''This (GSLV-Mk III) will increase our capability to launch satellites many fold,'' said A S Kiran Kumar, chairman of Isro. ''It is completely indigenous.''

The long-delayed development of the high thrust cryogenic engine and the GSLV Mk-III will set the ball rolling for Isro's future projects, including Chandrayaan-2 and the manned mission.

It will also help Isro gain a share in the global heavy payload market.

Isro began work on building indigenous cryogenic engine in the 1970s, though it gained momentum after Russia denied transfer of technology. It was delayed also because the space agency had to focus on immediate requirements like development of Vikas engine, which now powers both PSLV and GSLV.

Isro would have used the CE-20 powered GSLV Mk III in 2003 had it not been for the US sanctions and a case foisted on Isro scientist Nambi Narayanan, who was the project director for the development of cryogenic engine in the early 1990s.

Isro launched a project to build a cryogenic engine in 1994 and the knowledge their engineers acquired through pilot projects like the development of a 12-tonne thrust engine, one-tonne and seven-tonne engines in the 1980s came in handy. According to Isro scientists, the CE-7.5 engine was the first indigenous version, working on a staged combustion cycle, with Russian design.

While work to develop a high thrust CE-20 engine began in 2002, the technical issues of its predecessor delayed the project.

On 15 April 2010, the engine failed 800 milliseconds after ignition during the launch of GSLV-D3 carrying GSAT-4 satellite. Isro used one of the last two Russian engines for its next launch, but the liquid fuel boosters failed. Another attempt at launch it using an indigenous cryogenic engine on 18 August 2013 had to be aborted.

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