Using indigenously developed cryogenic rocket technology, India would launch the GSLV-D3 mission on April 15 from the spaceport here that would catapult it to the elite club of five nations and mark its response to challenges posed by technology denial regime.
“Certainly this is a milestone for Indian space programme in many ways. This proves our capabilities and reflects our scientists’ determination to take up any challenge,” Director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre M.C. Dathan told reporters here.
The Indian Space Research Organisation’s launch vehicle GSLV-3 would blast off from the centre at 4.27 pm on Thursday and put in geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) India’s 2,220 kg communication satellite GSAT-4 with a seven-year mission life.
This is the first time India would be using indigenously built cryogenic stage and technology, which is crucial to put communication satellites weighing more than two tonnes in GTO.
The indigenous technology has come to fruition nearly 19 years after India was denied the cryogenic technology.
In 1992, India had made some efforts to acquire cryogenic propellant technology from Russia, but it did not materialise due to strong U.S. opposition and “technology denial regime of big powers”, Mr. Dathan said.
“Often in the past, we have purchased completed cryogenic engine from Russia and five of them had been used for our GSLV missions. But we felt that it was important to develop indigenous capability as cryogenic technology is crucial to take our space programme to new heights,” he said.
The technology has been developed by a dedicated team of scientists of ISRO’s Liquid Propulsions System Centre (LPSC) at Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu.
India, which had used Russian cryogenic stages for the last five GSLV flights, would join the US, Russia, Europe, Japan and China in possessing the complex cryogenic technology.
The development of cryogenic engines involves mastering several complex disciplines such as materials technology, operating rotary pumps and turbines that run at 42,000 rpm at cryogenic temperatures.
The development of the technology in the country has given the coveted status of total self-reliance in launch vehicle technology.
It would help ISRO to use it in future GSLV missions for carrying heavier payloads, given the growing demand for communication satellites in India and abroad, Mr. Dathan said.
“The greatest advantage of cryogenic propellant is that it could give greater energy, thrust and velocity to the launch vehicle than other types of solid or liquid propellants.
“The technology has already come through a lot of ground tests and faults found during the process have been corrected.
It has also been evaluated by national level experts. What is going to happen on April 15 is its flight worthiness test,” he said.
In December 2008, a milestone was crossed with the flight acceptance hot test of the cryogenic engine. This was an important step in the country’s march towards rank of top space faring nations.
“This flight is going to be very critical since we are going to demonstrate a major technology. So we have had no stone unturned to ensure it as a success,” he said.