Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Active December

      It could be a action-filled month with regards to space and astronomy.

      First, if all is a `go' the three-stage indigenous Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) powered with a Russian cryogenic engine carrying the GSat-5p communication satellite is slated for launch between December 10 and 20. The original launch window was from December 10 to December 15.

      The India-made GSat-5p satellite weighing approx 2300 kgs, having a 12-year life span, has 24 normal c band transponders and 12 extended c-band transponders. Its role: to augment tv and telecommunication services. The satellite will replace the ageing Insat-2e satellite.

      The G-Sat-5p will be positioned in the geostationary orbit 36,000 kms above the equator.

      After this Isro can launch just one more GSLV with a Russian cryogenic engine. Following the final GSLV mission with a Russian engine, space experts wonder when the next launch of this rocket will be scheduled because it will be powered with an indigenous cryogenic engine. The maiden attempt to launch a GSLV with an Indian engine flopped in on April 15, 2010. Isro chief, K. Radhakrishnan, announced that day that within a year a GSLV will fly with an indigenous engine. This means that it will lift off between March and April 2011.

      Will Isro be able to adhere to this schedule?

       Another event which can occur this month is the launch of the final flight of Nasa's space shuttle ``Discovery,'' to the International Space Station. The earlier date fixed for the mission was December 17,2010. But in view of the huge amount of repairs which have to be carried out the shuttle's external tank following a series of cracks, Nasa officials are doubtful about launching the shuttle on that date.  Speculation is rife in space circles that the status will turn green for lift only in February 2011.

       On the astronomy front, the month will witness the annual Gemenid meteor showers and a lunar eclipse.

        Will announce the dates soon.

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