The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully tested on ground on Sunday at Sriharikota, its biggest and most powerful rocket motor called S-200, powered by 200 tonnes of solid propellants. This is a vital step in the development of its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III (GSLV Mk-III), which will put a satellite weighing four tonnes in orbit.

N. Narayana Moorthy, Project Director, GSLV Mk-III, called the test a big success. The firing of the motor began at 8 a.m. at the test bed at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) and lasted its full duration of 130 seconds. The performance was exactly as predicted, said Mr. Moorthy. Nearly 600 parameters were monitored. During the test, the motor produced a peak thrust of 500 tonnes.

It is the third biggest solid rocket motor in the world after the booster rocket of NASA’s space shuttle and that of Arianespace’s Ariane-5 launch vehicle. It is 22 metres long and 3.2 metres in diameter.

An ISRO press release said the design, development and successful realisation of the motor was entirely an indigenous effort of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram and the SDSC, in collaboration with public and private sector industries.

The preparation and casting was done at the newly built Solid Propellant Plant at Sriharikota.

V. Srinivasan is the Project Director of the S-200 motor programme.

Two S-200 motors will hug the core liquid stage of the GSLV Mk-III rocket, which will also be propelled by a powerful cryogenic engine.

The GSLV Mk-III which is at an advanced stage of development will weigh 630 tonnes and will be 43.5 metres tall.

The ground test of its L-110 liquid motor, fuelled by 110 tonnes of liquid propellants, will take place in February at the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre at Mahendragiri, near Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu.

The GSLV Mk- III is expected to lift off from Sriharikota by the end of 2011.

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