Still recovering from repeated failures of its heavy-lift Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) in 2010, the Indian Space Research Organization is eyeing the next flight of the vehicle in 2012.
“We have a major task ahead of us ... [the] development and perfection of [the] indigenous cryogenic stage,” ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan says. “We are making good progress and we plan to have the next flight of GSLV ... in the second quarter of 2012.”
ISRO also plans to have two more Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) missions before launching the GSLV. On Oct. 12, ISRO successfully launched its PSLV-C18 rocket carrying four satellites, including the Indo-French collaborative weather satellite Megha-Tropiques.
In December 2010, the homegrown GSLV-F06 vehicle was destroyed by its flight termination system when it veered off course less than a minute after liftoff. The GSAT-5P communications satellite, carrying 24 C-band and 12 extended C-band transponders, plunged into the Bay of Bengal. Before that, the GSLV-D3 mission carrying GSAT-4 failed in April 2010.
Now under development, GSLV-MK III is designed to make India fully self-reliant in launching heavier communication satellites weighing 4,500-5,000 kg (9,900-11,000 lb.), boosting its status as a key player in the global commercial launch market. According to a senior ISRO official, GSLV-MK III is being designed to place a 4-ton-class satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit.
S. Ramakrishnan, director of ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Center, says the agency has identified the issues with the GSLV upper-stage engine. “We have studied the design of booster pumps and redesigned it. The computer simulation was done and validated. One more long-duration test of the cryogenic engine will be made by the end of this month,” he says.