Successful ignition of an indigenous cryogenic engine on Wednesday at Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari district, in conditions simulating the high altitude atmosphere, has boosted the confidence of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to go ahead with the launch of a Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D5) in July.

The hot-test took place in the newly-built high altitude test facility (HAT) at ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) at Mahendragiri.

“The test was held at 7.55 p.m. on Wednesday, simulating the high altitude conditions to see whether ignition of the indigenously developed cryogenic engine takes place smoothly, as per the expected temperature, pressure and flow parameters,” said Director of LPSC M.C. Dathan.

“The ignition was perfect and it gave all the parameters as per our predictions and it has given us an excellent confidence to go ahead with the GSLV-D5 launch from Sriharikota in July,” he noted. The engine, which uses liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as propellants and develops a thrust of 7.5 tonnes, powers the GSLV’s upper stage.

With the successful test, the indigenous cryogenic engine would be fully assembled and the cryogenic stage itself delivered at Sriharikota in a month’s time. “Once it reaches Sriharikota, it may take more than two months to fully assemble the vehicle and conduct all tests. So we are planning to launch the GSLV-D5 in the second half of July,” said Mr. Dathan.

GSLV-D5, with the indigenous cryogenic engine, will put into orbit a communication satellite called GSAT-14.

Mr. Dathan said the HAT facility was realised in a record time of one year. “This facility is a unique one in the country for testing cryogenic engines, simulating the high altitude conditions.”

The launch of a GSLV-D3 with an indigenous cryogenic engine in April 2010 ended in failure. Although the engine ignited in vacuum in space, the ignition could not be sustained.

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