Saturday, December 25, 2010

GSLV-F06: ISRO detonates the geo-stationery satellite after it develops technical snag

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Dec 25: India's ambitious geo-stationary satellite mission received a major setback on Saturday as the satellite launcher, GSLV-F06, had to be detonated seconds after its launch. The GSLV-F06 plunged into the Bay of Bengal with its payload, the geostationary satellite, GSAT-5P, badly hitting the telecommunications expansion programme in the country.

This is the third GSLV launch failure and the second one in eight months. However, this is the first time that ISRO's satellite launch mission had failed in the crucial first stage itself. Of the seven GSLV launch missions, India could successfully accomplish four, with three missions being a total failure. However, in contrast the PSLV launch has been successful, with only one of the 17 missions failing to take off.

The GSLV-F06, which uses the third stage cryogenic engine from Russia, deviated from the designed path moments after the launch. Fearing that it would hit human habitations, the ISRO team monitoring the launch, pressed the detonation command to abort the mission. This is perhaps the first time ever the ISRO had to kill its own mission fearing loss to human life and property. The ISRO spent Rs 125 crore on the satellite. The failure will affect ISRO's planned missions, including the manned mission to moon.

GSAT-5P was by far the weightiest communication satellite made by ISRO and was to replace Insat2E communication satellite launched 11 years ago. ISRO said a defective strap-on boosters hurled the GSLV rocket off-course soon after a smooth lift-off from Sriharikota Range in Nellore district.

The launch was originally scheduled for December 20, but was put off by five days following a leak in the cryogenic engine. ISRO had switched to the Russian cryogenic engine for the present launch after the earlier test mission in April this year using India-built cyrogenic engine proved unsuccessful.

GSAT-5P had 24 C-band transponders and 12 extended C-band transponders and was meant for augmenting communication services currently provided by Indian National Satellite System. It was meant to boost TV, telemedicine and tele-education, and telephone services.

The satellite, developed by ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore, was the fifth in the GSAT series. Had the mission been successful, GSAT-5P would have served the teleccommunications needs of the country till at least 2022.

Experts in liquid propulsion systems Dr D Sashi Kumar and Dr Nambi Narayanan described the failure of the ISRO's mission as "unfortunate and a stupid thing to have happened in the history of India's space mission".

Unfortunately, the whole operation was over even before cheers and claps that rented the air when GSLV took off died down much to the
disappointment of ISRO engineers.

ISRO chairman r K Radhakrishnan told reporters that the control room lost control over the on board computer system of the GSLV-F06 vehicle and the activation system in GSLV failed to react to the commands from the ground.

He said an expert’s team will study the reasons for the deviation of the path for next two days to assess about what exactly triggered the problem. “We suspect that a connector which takes signal down snapped” he said pointing to a possible snag on strap on motor in the first stage.

Reacting to a question on GSLV failure affecting the business of
launching foreign satellites, he maintained that it will not have much
of an impact while pointing to their success with PSLV. He indicated
to the plans to launch next GSAT 8 French Guiana. He said Chandrayaan II project will be launched in 2013 or 2014.

The first flight of GSLV took place from SHAR on April 18, 2001 by launching 1540 kg GSAT-1. It was followed by four more launches, GSLV-D2 on May 8, 2003 (GSAT-2 1825 kg), GSLV-F01 on September 20, 2004 (EDUSAT 1950 kg), GSLV-F02 on July 10, 2006, GSLV-F04 on September 2, 2007 (INSAT-4CR 2130 kg) and GSLV-D3 on April 15, 2010.

"We have brought seven cryogenic engines from Russia and used six so far and have one more. We have taken sanction for redesign the core element of GSLV in 2011 first part. Our current plan for 2011 to 2012 we would like to go through ground tests related design and
configuration of GSLV before next flight” Dr Radhakrishnan added.

Immediate Missions

1. Resource Sat II launch through PSLV in January 2011.
2. Youth Sat made by Masco University and ISRO in January
3. A satellite made by Singapore University in January

History of GSLV launches

GSLV-F06 launched GSAT-5P on December 25, 2010 (Unsuccessful)
GSLV-D3 launched GSAT-4 on April 15, 2010 (Unsuccessful)
GSLV-F04 launched INSAT-4CR on September 2, 2007 (Successful)
GSLV-F02 launched INSAT-4C on July 10, 2006 (Unsuccessful)
GSLV-F01 launched EDUSAT(GSAT-3) on September 20, 2004 (Successful)
GSLV-D2 launched GSAT-2 on May 8, 2003 (Successful)
GSLV-D1 launched GSAT-1 on April 18, 2001 (Successful)

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