India’s heaviest rocket ever is expected to take to the sky next January on an experimental flight whose later versions could be used to send humans on space missions.
The mainstay of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle —Mark III (GSLV-Mk III) would be to put in orbit communication satellites weighing between four and five tonnes, thus packing more transponders per launch.
“We are targeting an experimental flight of GSLV-Mk III in January 2014,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K. Radhakrishnan told reporters after a public lecture at the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) here.
This will also be a first time that ISRO scientists would undertake an experimental flight of a launch vehicle which would fall into the sea after reaching a height of 120 km. “We have been simulating the flight using computers. But there are certain tests that cannot be carried out on the ground. We will test the rocket in a cost effective manner,” GSLV-Mk III’s project director S. Somnath said.
He said ISRO engineers have planned to take some 2,000 measurements during the experimental flight of the GSLV-Mk III, which would weigh 640 tonnes at lift-off, making it the heaviest rocket built in the country.
“All the 2000 measurements during the flight would be telemetred down to the ground station. We will analyse them.
This will enable us to have full knowledge of the flight,” Somnath said.
The new rocket, which can put a four tonne satellite in orbit, will help Antrix Corporation, ISRO’s commercial arm, to offer cheapest space launches in the niche market.