The Indian space agency will Saturday conduct a crucial test on an indigenously built cryogenic engine for launching its heavier rockets from its spaceport, a top official said Friday.
"The cryogenic acceptance test will take place Saturday in our Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre at Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu. If it succeeds, we will use the cryogenic stage in the geostationary satellite launch vehicle (GSLV) rocket later this year," state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K. Radhakrishnan told reporters here.
Th espace agency's attempt to use its first cryogenic engine April 15, 2010 to launch a communication satellite on board a GSLV was aborted as the heavy rocket plunged into the sea within minutes after blast-off from its Sriharikota spaceport, about 80 km north-east of Chennai.
"We have learnt a lot from the previous attempt and rectified the errors that caused the failure two years ago," Radhakrishnan admitted.
A cryogenic engine is a rocket motor that is fired by a mixture of liquid fuels (oxidiser) such as hydrogen and oxygen at very low temperatures of 20 degrees Kelvin and 90 degree Kelvin.
Buoyed by the success of its polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV-C19) putting into a higher orbit its microwave radar imaging satellite (Risat-1) April 26, the space agency has drawn up an ambitious plan to launch a series of space missions over the next two years using a combination of lighter (PSLV) and heavier (GSLV) rockets, including an experimental flight of GSLV-Mark III.
"We have designed GSLV-Mark III to be self-reliant in launching four-five tonne communication satellites in the INSAT-4 series. The next generation rocket will also enhance our capability to be a competitive player in the multi-billion dollar commercial launch market," Radhakrishnan asserted on the occasion of the space agency's satellite centre (ISAC) herecompleting four decades (Ruby Year) of service.
The advanced rocket will have a multi-mission launch capability for geo-synchronous transfer orbit (GTO), low earth orbit (lEO), polar and intermediate circular orbits.
The Indo-French satellite (Megha-Tropiques), launched October 2011 to study the water cycle in the tropical atmosphere for assessing climate change, will release data from June, when the south-west monsoon in the Indian peninsula sets in.
"The data will be useful as it will give valuable information on the rainfall patterns," the chairman noted.
Though former ISRO chairmen U.R. Rao and K. Kasturirangan were present on the occasion to celebrate ISAC's Ruby Year, the absence of Radhakrishnan's immediate predecessor G. Madhavan Nair at the function was conspicuous.
Former ISAC director K.N. Shankara, who was also indicted in the ISRO-Devas Multimedia Services Ltd spectrum deal along with Nair and two other senior space scientists, was, however, present and felicitated by Radhakrishnan.