A technical anomaly preventing the ignition of the GSLV-F10 rocket ’s cryogenic upper stage spelt disappointment for Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Thursday morning, as the national space agency could not accomplish the mission to launch earth observation satellite EOS-03 into the intended orbit.
Though the lift-off at the scheduled time of 5.43 a.m. from the second launch pad in the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, some 100 km from here, was successful, the anomaly was realised only after a few minutes.
“The performance of the first and second stages was normal. However, cryogenic upper stage ignition did not happen due to a technical anomaly. The mission couldn't be accomplished as intended,” the ISRO said in a statement. It did not elaborate any further.
EOS-03, intended to be positioned in the geostationary transfer orbit initially, was supposed to reach the final geostationary orbit. It was expected to provide near real-time imaging of a large area of interest at frequent intervals, which could be used for quick monitoring of natural disasters, episodic events and any short-term events. The mission life of the satellite was 10 years.
Soon after the 51.70 metre-tall GSLV-F10’s went up, a live telecast on Doordarshan showed scientists in the Mission Control Centre (MCC) eagerly waiting and hoping for its smooth and successful functioning.
Sense of uncertainty
The launch resembled a routine affair until the rocket’s second stage, some five minutes after the lift-off. A sense of suspicion and uncertainty descended upon the MCC as the graph on the screens showed a slight deviation of the rocket’s path.
A few minutes later, some ISRO officials were seen discussing with ISRO chairman K. Sivan. After a few rounds of discussions, the Range Operations Director announced: “Performance anomaly [was] observed in the cryogenic stage. [The] mission could not be accomplished fully.”
Mr. Sivan too made a formal announcement that the mission could not be accomplished, “mainly because it is a technical anomaly observed in the cryogenic stage.”
GSLV-F10 was ISRO’s eighth flight with indigenous cryo, 14th GSLV flight and 79th launch from Sriharikota. A 4-metre diameter Ogive-shaped payload fairing was flown for the first time in this GSLV flight.
Of the 18 GSLV launches since 2001, (including GSLV Mk-III), this could be considered the fourth unsuccessful mission. According to the ISRO, the three unsuccessful missions of the GSLV were on July 10, 2006, April 15, 2010 and December 25, 2010.
While the first stage of the GSLV is solid fuel, the second is liquid fuel and the third the cryogenic engine.