IRNSS-1A — the first navigation satellite in a series of seven to be launched through 2015-16 — slides into final slot

After slotting its nine-day-old navigation satellite, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) now turns full steam on its next and high-stakes test, the flight of the Geo Synchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) medium-lift satellite launcher.

ISRO Chairman and Department of Space Secretary K. Radhakrishnan on Monday said the launcher, numbered GSLV-D5, was planned for launch in the second week of next month but not before August 6.

After two-and-half years

The GSLV, which is so crucial for the country’s space programme, is being resumed after two-and-half years. Two consecutive launchers flown in 2010 failed, setting back the programme and putting the vehicle and the indigenous cryogenic stage through rigorous checks and tests.

It will be also the second outing of the homemade cryogenic stage, in place of the Russian stages that powered six of the seven previously flown GSLVs.

Dr. Radhakrishnan said the cryogenic stage had been modified since the April 2010 failure, tested many times and now integrated as the third and upper stage of the rocket at the Sriharikota launch site. He spoke after launching a new programme at the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium.

The GSLV, flown first in 2001, has been a partial success. ISRO urgently needs to ready the launcher for putting its communication satellites in earth-fixed or geosynchronous slots in space — or it must pay and use foreign (which have been mostly European Ariane) launch vehicles.

Its older and light-lift launcher, the PSLV, has a neat record after flying 22 times.

The space agency has spared no test or modification on this launcher, which will take up the 2,000-kg GSAT-14 communication satellite: this will replace the experimental Edusat/GSAT-3 which was flown in 2004.

IRNSS-1A progress

Meanwhile, IRNSS-1A, the first navigation satellite in a series of seven to be launched through 2015-16, has reached a near circular orbit of 23 hours and 50 minutes and is at a distance 35,870 x 35,484 km from earth, ISRO said in its latest post-launch update.

The orbit raising operations have been completed after the motors on the satellite were fired five times between July 2 and July 6. “The performance is normal. All spacecraft subsystems are evaluated and functioning normal. [It] is in a geosynchronous orbit with 27 degrees inclination and at 44 degrees East longitude,” it said.

Also coming up this month is the advanced weather satellite Insat-3D. The 3000-kg satellite will be launched from French Guiana on a European Ariane-5 vehicle in the wee hours of July 26.

Mars vehicle

The PSLV vehicle that will carry the Mars orbiter in October will be taken up for integration on July 29. It will be an upgraded XL version. Two of the five payloads or devices going on the orbiter have been received.

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