More reports on: Satellites

Isro's GSLV Mk-III to place high-power communication satellite GSAT-19 in orbit

05 June 2017

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will today fire its high thrust cryogenic engine CE-20 to launch Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk III, India's heaviest rocket till date, to place the powerful GSAT-19 communications satellite in space.

The first experimental flight of India's heaviest rocket using the high thrust cryogenic engine CE-20 from Sriharikota at 5.28 pm will propel Isro's dream of launching heavy satellites and putting man in space.

The twenty-five-and-a-half-hour countdown for GSLV-Mk III carrying GSAT-19 communication satellite began at 3.58 pm on Sunday.

The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-Mk III), nicknamed 'fat boy', has a capacity to hurl four-tonne communication satellites into a higher orbit. It also has the potential to carry a 10-tonne capsule for a manned mission to space.

A 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 if not for the US sanction 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 their next launch, but the liquid fuel boosters failed. Another attempt at launch using an indigenous cryogenic engine on 18 August 2013 had to be aborted.

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