Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Engine leak delays GSAT-5P launch

In the second setback to the country's space programme this year, the launch of India's latest communication satellite GSAT-5P tomorrow from the spaceport of Sriharikota, was deferred today after a leak in the Russian cryogenic engine on board the launch vehicle.

The mission was called off after the Launch Authorisation Board did not give the go-ahead after a leak in one of the valves of the cryogenic engine stage was identified during the pre-countdown checks, Indian Space Research Organisation said.

The homegrown GSLV-FO6 was scheduled to blast off at 4.01 pm from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, about 100 km from Chennai, in a 19-minute mission to put in orbit the 2310-kg satellite, intended to augment the country's communication services.

ISRO said the revised schedule for the launch would be firmed up after ascertaining the cause of the leak.

This is the second setback for ISRO after India's prestigious mission of flight testing its maiden homegrown cryogenic engine on board GSLV-D3 failed in April this year, when the rocket deviated from its flight path.

It was the first time that India had used the indigenously built cryogenic engine, crucial to put more than two tonne class satellites in the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit, in the failed mission.

In the GSLV-FO6, the cryogenic upper stage was procured from Russia as was the case in the first five flights of GSLV since 2001.

GSAT-5P carries 24 C-band and 12 extended C-band transponders. It was intended to augment communication services currently provided by the Indian National Satellite System (INSAT), boosting TV, telephone and telemedicine services.

The satellite, developed by ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore, is the fifth in the GSAT series. It has a designed mission life of 12 years.

Four predecessors of GSAT-5P were launched on board GSLV and three of them GSAT-1, GSAT-2 and GSAT-3 (EDUSAT) reached the orbit successfully.

The GSLV-FO6 has major changes incorporated as compared to the previous flights. It includes the loading of 15 tonnes of propellants in its third stage of flight and the uprating of the third stage thrust by 26 per cent, ISRO said.

The first satellite in INSAT series was commissioned with the launch of INSAT-1B in August 1983. Since then, India has launched nine satellites - INSAT-2E, INSAT-3A, INSAT-3C, INSAT-3E, INSAT-4A, INSAT-4B, INSAT-4CR, GSAT-2 and KALPANA-1 with a total of 178 transponders in Ku-band, C-Band and extended C-band instruments.

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