ISRO launches its heaviest rocket and satellite!

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has launched the heaviest rocket ever in the country and reached a new milestone. Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mk III) along with a communications satellite GSAT-19 was launched from the second launch pad at India’s rocket port at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh at 05:28 pm on June 5, 2017.

The Mk III is the most muscular launch vehicle to date which can lift 4,000 kg of payloads to the geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) and 10,000 kg to the low-Earth orbit. The rocket itself weighs 640 tonnes and is 43.43 metres tall. It carried a 3,123 kg GSAT-19 communications satellite to an altitude of around 179km above the Earth after just over 16 minutes into the flight.

Rajeshwari Rajagopalan Pillai, senior fellow and Head, Nuclear & Space Policy Initiative, Observer Research Foundation of New Delhi, informed The Wire: India’s capability to launch heavy satellites has significant positive commercial spin-offs. This will make India an important player in the multibillion-dollar global satellite launch market, making India a cost effective and reliable partner for heavy satellite launches, generating additional revenue for The enhanced launch capability builds up India’s potential to undertake deep space exploration more seriously.”

Cryogenic Upper Stage is being integrated with the GSLV-MK III D1. (Credit: ISRO)

The rocket’s cryogenic engine has been constructed by the scientists indigenously, which will help India to reduce its dependency on international launching vehicles.  The GSAT-19 has a lifespan of ten years, and will carry Ka and Ku-band payload along with a Geostationary Radiation Spectrometer (GRASP) payload, which will monitor and study the nature of charged particles and influence of space radiation on spacecraft and electronic components. It will also employ bus subsystem experiments in the electrical propulsion system, indigenous Li-ion battery and bus bars for power distribution.

Since its formation in 1969, ISRO continues to be the pride of India. Concluding with the words of Vikram Sarabhai, who is considered the father of the Indian Space Programme: “There are some who question the relevance of space activities in a developing nation. To us, there is no ambiguity of purpose. We do not have the fantasy of competing with the economically advanced nations in the exploration of the Moon or the planets or manned space-flight. But we are convinced that if we are to play a meaningful role nationally, and in the community of nations, we must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society.”

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