Sunday, December 19, 2010

It is a `no go' for the GSLV launch,

           Is the three-stage Geo Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) jinxed?

           On April 15, 2010, a GSLV for the first time powered with an indigenous cryogenic engine, instead of zooming towards the skies took a turn and plunged into the sea. The reason: the India-made cryogenic engine failed.

            Thousands of people who were eagerly awaiting the outcome of the mission were were terribly disappointed when Isro chairman, K.Radhakrishnan, formally declared the mission a failure and announced that within a year the next flight of the rocket with an indiigenous cryogenic engine will be launched,. This means that the launch should take place in the next four months. The question is whether the Indian cryo is ready for another flight? There is no word from Isro as yet.

           On December 19, 2010, all was a `go'  for the GSLV launch, Hectic preparations were in progress at Sriharikota. There was excitement in the air because Isro was to have launched one of its heaviest communication satellites--the 2310 kg G-Sat 5(Prime), which would have enhanced telecom and television services.

           The final 29-hour launch countdown was to kick off at 11 a.m. on Sunday targetting towards a launch at 4 p.m. on Monday. The status was green until a leak was discovered in the Russian-made cryogenic engine during the pre countdown checks. The launch authorisation board then decided to give a `no go' to initiate the final 29-hour countdown.

            Yes, there was disappointment among space scientists and engineers, but they said that such discoveries of snags at the last moment are not uncommon in space missions. ``Beyond Moon and Mars (BMM)'' recalls that when it was at Sriharikota on March 30 2001, to cover the very first launch of the GSLV, the mission was halted by the computer when the countdown hit the T-0 mark. The reason: the computer discovered a technical snag preventing the launch of the mission.

           Though K.Kasturirangan who was then chairman of Isro announced that it would take atleast a year for the mission to the relaunched, everyone was surprised when the space agency resked it by just three weeks. The flight lifted off on April 19,2001. and it was flawless, launching India into higher orbits in space technology.

          So there is really nothing to feel disappointed about. See what has happened to Nasa's space shuttle ``Discovery.''  On account of leaks and cracks in its external tank, the flight has been tentatively postponed till February 2011.

          All the same the GSLV as compared to the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) has not been entirely trouble-free triggering speculation whether it is jinxed. India's second mission to the moon, ``Chandrayaan-2,'' is slated to lift off atleast provisionally in 2013 with a GSLV..

         All the very best!              

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