India is all set to launch on June 5 its heaviest rocket which weighs more than the combined weight of 200 full-grown Asian elephants or five fully-loaded jumbo jets. The all-new 640-ton Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle – Mark III (GSLV Mk- III) could soon be used to ferry Indian astronauts to space. India tests a new satellite system as well.
The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) mega monster, which took 15 years of relentless work by the scientists, is capable of carrying four ton communication satellites to space. On its maiden launch, it will hoist the 3,136 kilogram GSAT-19, an experimental communications satellite, to geosynchronous transfer orbit from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
“We are pushing ourselves to the limits to ensure that this new fully self-reliant Indian rocket succeeds in its maiden launch,” ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar said.
At 43 metres, the rocket is higher than a 13-storeyed building. While it’s capable of launching four ton communication satellites, it can also send six to 10 ton bodies into low earth orbits. If all goes well in the next few years and after a slew of at least half a dozen successful launches, the GSLV-Mk III which was earlier named Launch Vehicle Mark-3, could become India’s vehicle of choice to launch Indians into space.
Dr K Kasturirangan, former chairman, ISRO said, “The success of GSLV Mk- III will usher in a new era of our self-reliance in the context of launching our own four ton class of satellites for geosynchronous missions.”
The rocket is powered by an indigenously designed cryogenic engine that uses liquid oxygen and hydrogen as a propellant. While the estimated cost of the new rocket is around Rs. 300 crore, it will help the country save almost as much when it will be used to place the country’s communication satellites.
India already has two operational rockets — the workhorse PSLV that can hoist satellites of 1.5 ton into space and was the preferred vehicle for India’s maiden mission to Moon and Mars and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark II which can hoist 2 ton class of satellites. However, because of its repeated failures, it was dubbed ‘the naughty boy of ISRO’.
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