ISRO scheduled the GSLV-D5 lift-off at 4.18 p.m. on Sunday, amid high hopes and expectations and pressure to perform. The weather held good and the lift-off happened on the dot. As the three-stage, 49-metre tall rocket, weighing 414 tonnes, catapulted out of the second launch pad, it thundered into the sky.

The third, topmost indigenous cryogenic stage ignited on time, less than five minutes after the lift-off. For the next 12 minutes, the machine worked like a dream. “The vehicle is accelerating, the cryo performance normal, the cryo has shut down, injection condition achieved…” the Mission Control kept announcing.

At the end of 17 minutes, when M.S. Panneerselvan, Range Operations Director, announced, “GSAT-14 separation successfully achieved,” everyone in the Mission Control Centre (MCC) was ecstatic.

S. Ramakrishnan, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, called it “a memorable day for ISRO’s launch vehicle community for it was a great challenge to realise the indigenous cryogenic stage.” The success gives ISRO the confidence to go ahead with the GSLV-Mark III which weighs 600 tonnes and has a more powerful cryo engine, Mr. Ramakrishnan said.

M.C. Dathan, Director, Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, ISRO, which built the cryogenic stage, called it “fantastic, miraculous performance from the cryo stage.”

The engine’s chamber pressure, the turbo pump’s speed, temperature and other parameters were exactly as predicted. The engine burnt for 12 minutes, producing the exact thrust needed to get the correct velocity and put the communication satellite into orbit, Mr. Dathan said.