ISRO''s independent ''destroy command''

Chennai: The decision to destroy the geo synchronous launch vehicle F 02 (GSLV F02) was taken independently by a small group of three safety officials in the Satish Dawan Space Centre (SDSC).

Located away from the mission control room, the group monitors the flight path diligently plotting the Instantaneous Impact Point (IIP)-the point where the vehicle or its debris would fall. According to an official of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the group is totally independent and does not need to get prior sanction to destruct the vehicle if required.

On July 10, 2006, when the group saw the GSLV F02 going awry, the leader of the group pressed the "destroy" button. Forty-five seconds after GSLV F02 lifted-off, it was destroyed when it went out of control. "The vehicle at that time was 15km over the sea and the debris would not have fallen on land even if the vehicle was not destroyed," said an official.

The GSLV F02 is a three-stage vehicle. The first stage (GS1) comprises a core motor with 138 tonnes of solid propellant and four strap-on motors each with 42 tonne of hypergolic liquid propellants (UH25 and N2O4).

The second stage (GS2) has 39 tonnes of the same hypergolic liquid propellants. The third stage (GS3) is a cryogenic stage with 12.6 tonnes of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.