John P. Zachariah, Associate Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), has said that India will be able to develop an indigenous cryogenic stage for launching satellites weighing over four tonnes in a year and a half.

Dr. Zachariah, who was here to inaugurate a show titled “Our solar system” by the Regional Science Centre and Planetarium on Saturday, told presspersons that the project was on in full swing, and the indigenous cryogenic stage would allow India to launch satellites on its own without depending on other countries. Only the technical expertise of Indian scientists and indigenous technologies would be used.

Dr. Zachariah said the research related to the launch of the Geostationary Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark III was nearing the final stages. The launch vehicle, designed in three stages with a height of 42.4 m and a lift-off weight of 630 tonnes, would be ready for operation by July 2011.

On the latest research in space technology, Dr. Zachariah said the VSSC had conducted initial experiments with an air-breathing propulsion mechanism, which equipped the satellites to use the air in the atmosphere for oxidisation. A trial experiment using the RX 560 rocket would be held in 2011 to check the efficiency of the system.

He said the VSSC would be able to double the number of launches in the coming years. The plan was to equip the centre with the capacity to launch at least six satellites a year.

He said the aptitude of the younger generation in space research was increasing in recent years. The activities of the VSSC would get a boost with the enrolment of researchers from the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram.

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