The GSLV flops again !

Casting a shadow over India’s immediate space programmes like Chandrayaan-2 and manned mission, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) on Saturday came a cropper for the second consecutive time in less than nine months. The GSLV-F06, carrying the GSAT-5P satellite which was to boost India's television broadcasting and telemedicine facilities, had to be destroyed 63 seconds after it lifted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, near Chennai. Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) chairman K Radhakrishnan attributed the failure to a problematic connection which was to take signals from onboard computers to the strap-on motors. “I am extremely sorry to say that the GSLV-F06 mission has failed. The GSLV-FO6 lifted off normally at 4.04 pm . All the strap-on motors generated normal pressure before the solid core was ignited. The performance of the vehicle was normal up to 50 seconds. But soon the vehicle lost control and we had to detonate it at an altitude of eight kilometres,” he said. As the computer commands ceased to reach the first stage, the range safety officer triggered the detonation, sending the debris plunging into the Bay of Bengal. The explosion was visible as far as the Marinabeach in Chennai. Isro will analyse the failure in detail. “What happened after 47 seconds has to be studied in detail. We will be doing it from now,” Radhakrishnan said. The weather was fine and the lift-off was perfect. There was applause and cheer all around as the majestic GSLV rose with a thunderous sound. Three of the seven GSLV launches have been failures . The monetary loss was pegged at around Rs 325 crore, including the Rs 175 crore that went into the making of GSLV and Rs 150 crore for the satellite. On losing the GSAT-5P satellite which was carrying 36 transponders to augment communication systems, Radhakrishnan said the agency had to find an alternative. Turning philosophical at one point, the Isro chairman said, “We have to learn from failures; such failures lead to success.” Isro has planned four launches in 2011, including PSLV 17. “Chandrayaan-2 will take place in 2013-2014 in collaboration with Russia,” he said, adding that Isro was doing ground tests on the indigenous cryogenic engine. The previous GSLV launch on April 15, 2010 was also a failure. While the problem during the last launch was with the third stage indigenous cryogenic engine, this time trouble started in the first stage itself. This time Isro used a prepurchased Russian cryogenic engine. The Indian space body has had a troubled past with the GSLV, with only two of the seven launches so far claiming total success. Though Isro claims that four launches had been successful, independent observers agree with only two, the rest being branded either failure of partial success.

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