India Enters Big League In Space Tech, Launches Its Heaviest Rocket Ever

© AFP 2023 / ARUN SANKARThe Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) communication satellite GSAT-19, carried onboard the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-mark III ), launches at Sriharikota on June 5, 2017
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) communication satellite GSAT-19, carried onboard the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-mark III ), launches at Sriharikota on June 5, 2017 - Sputnik International
Following the agenda of achieving self-sufficiency in space technology, India launched the GSLV Mark III carrying the 3,136kg GSAT-19 communication satellite from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, on Monday.

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New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark III weighs 640 tons, with a height of 43.43 m and will be carrying the heaviest payload ever by an Indian rocket and place it 36,000 km from earth into space.

"The GSLV Mark III would be carrying the GSAT-19 communications satellite that would help improve VSAT (very small aperture terminal) and data connectivity and other applications across the country. It is a high-throughput communication satellite that has multiple applications," Mint quoted A.S. Kiran Kumar, secretary, Department of Space and chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), as saying.

​The project, however, got delayed for almost 12 years due to the collapse of the USSR, the US-led sanctions thereafter, and budgetary costs all along which forced the ISRO to focus on PSLV and GSLV.

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Indian space scientists have been looking for cryogenic rocket technology since the mid-1980s. The hope of getting it via USSR buckled in 1991 with the disintegration of Soviet Union. Before 1991, the USSR didn't pass it on as part of MTCR and other Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) detente with the United States. There were multiple treaties which stopped the transfer of technology to countries that were not signatories to Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The US imposed sanctions on India first in 1974, when the first nuclear test was carried out. In 1998, India tested nuclear devices for the second time, leading to more sanctions and therefore the denial of cryogenic engine technology.

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The project may have been started in the 2000s but it's the lack of engine technology which has held back such projects.

"Export controls on strategic technologies were used to prevent India from developing missile or nuclear technology. Since the early 2000s, the rationale of technology export control regimes and its dynamics have undergone some change. Despite technology controls, the West, and the US, in particular, had to recognize the new reality, that they could not entirely control the spread of technology," Rajeshwari Rajagopalan Pillai, Senior fellow and Head, Nuclear & Space Policy Initiative, at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, told Sputnik.

Capable of carrying a payload of 4,000 kg into the geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) at 36,000 km, and 10,000 kg into the lower earth orbit (LEO) at around 800 km, the GSLV Mark III's first successful suborbital test flight was conducted on December 18, 2014, according to the official website of ISRO.

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The GSLV MK III is India's fourth generation launch vehicle with a three-stage vehicle with four liquid strap-ons which include the indigenously developed cryogenic upper stage in the third stage. The flight is also expected to boost India's manned space mission aspirations.

"The development of the GSLV Mark III relieves India of dependency on foreign players to launch its heavy satellites. With the future satellite launch market shifting towards heavy communication satellites, India has a strong incentive to master this launch vehicle. It also has the potential to be used in a future Indian human space program or deep space exploration," she said.

Earlier, on May 5, the Indian space agency launched the 2,230 kg South Asia GSAT-9 to boost connectivity among South Asian nations. The project involved eight countries which involved bringing on board Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Pakistan was not part of the project.

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