GSLV crash: experts to study data

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Apr 17 2010, 05:51am hrs
Despite the failure of the GSLV-D3 mission, its business as usual at Isro. The top brass of GSLV-D3 team have decided to put their heads together on Saturday at VSSC (Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre), Thiruvananthapuram, in an effort to find out what went wrong with the Rs 350-crore cryo engine.

The focus of Saturdays meeting will be flight data analysis, but there will be a thorough probe based on this in the coming weeks, a senior Isro official told FE.

S Ramakrishnan, director (projects), Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) would chair the discussions. Sources said the meeting is likely to be on the performance of the propulsion aspects. The 50-metre GSLV launch vehicle was a three-stage rocket. At the count-zero, the first stage, had ignited using one of the worlds largest solid fuel motors and strap on boosters. As first stage ended, liquid engine took over in second stage, while the heat shield is shed. It was at an altitude of about 130 km that the onus fell on the crucial cryogenic engine.

Using very cold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as fuel, Indias first homespun cryo workhorse was hoped to launch heavier payloads. After a 17-minute flight, the 2,200-kg Indian satellite was to have been put into its pre-planned orbit, but this did not happen.

Although Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan had confirmed that cryogenic stage was not successful, he did hasten to add that scientists were not very sure that the cryogenic main engine did ignite. The vehicle tumbled losing control and altitude. One of the reasons being stated for the failure is vacuum at the cryo stage, coupled with some error in calculations.