GSLV Mark-III - India Breaks in to Elite Space Club

The first experimental flight of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark III registered success as it lifted off from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on the dot at 9.30 a.m. on Thursday, taking India much closer to realising the dream of manned space flight.
The mission control centre erupted in smiles and claps and the scientists hugged each other, as the GSLV Mark III moved a step closer to its first development flight with the functional C25 cryogenic stage.
Also known as LVM3/CARE, the suborbital experimental mission was intended to test the vehicle’s performance during the critical atmospheric phase of its flight and this carried a passive (non-functional) cryogenic upper stage.
The vehicle, exactly five-and-a-half minutes after take-off, carried its payload — the 3,775-kg crew-module atmospheric re-entry experiment (CARE) — to the intended height of 126 km. Two massive S-200 solid strap-on boosters, each carrying 207 tonnes of solid propellants, ignited at lift-off and separated 153.5 seconds later. The L110 liquid stage ignited 120 seconds after lift-off.
“This new launch vehicle performed very well and was a great success. We had an unmanned crew module to understand re-entry characteristics. That went off successfully and the crew module splashed as expected in the Bay of Bengal,” said Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman K. Radhakrishnan from the mission control centre.
With the module gently landing in the Andaman Sea, about 1,600 km from Sriharikota, the GSLV Mk-III X/CARE mission concluded successfully. “As it made its way back into our atmosphere, the parachutes performed as per the speed that we expected,” said S. Unnikrishnan Nair, Project Director, Human Spaceflight Programme.
The former ISRO Chairman K. Kasturirangan, who was present, said, “ Every GSLV should go higher not only physically, but mentally too.”
It has been a glorious year for the Indian Space Research Organisation. The successful launch of Mangalyaan into Mars orbit on September 24 on its maiden attempt was the crowning glory. On December 18, the space organisation followed it up with another stupendous success with the first experimental launch of a GSLV Mark III vehicle and the safe splashdown of an unmanned crew module in the Bay of Bengal off the Andaman and Nicobar Islands after re-entry into the atmosphere. These two achievements best exemplify the maturing of the Indian space programme and its capability to take the country’s space missions to greater heights. The experimental flight of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III carrying a Crew module Atmospheric Reentry Experiment (CARE) as its payload is remarkable for a few reasons. Unlike Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) launches, GSLV launch history has been trouble-prone. Making it all the more challenging is the fact that the GSLV Mark III vehicle is heavier, taller and more advanced than others. The rocket has the capability to put into orbit communication satellites that are as heavy as 4 tonnes — twice as heavy as the ones that are currently carried by GSLV rockets. Once the new vehicle becomes fully operational, India may well stop relying on other countries to launch satellites weighing up to 4 tonnes. The space organisation is confident of launching in two years a developmental flight of this vehicle with a fully operational cryogenic engine.
Thirty long years after Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian to travel into space aboard a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft, India has now come a step closer to realising its long-held dream of sending humans into space, with the successful test flight of GSLV Mark III and the safe splashdown of the unmanned crew module. The capsule performed as expected after re-entry into the atmosphere and, remarkably, decelerated to 7 metres a second before splashing into the Bay of Bengal. This is the first time India had ever tested the deployment of parachutes for deceleration. But more than understanding the re-entry characteristics of the crew module, the primary objective of the current mission was to test the new design of the rocket, particularly at the time of lift-off and passage through the atmosphere. The fact that there was little deviation from the flight path during its entire course till it reached an altitude of 126 km, was proof that the two large solid boosters fired simultaneously at take-off. Also, the vehicle withstood the atmospheric loading as it travelled through the atmosphere. Tall and heavy rockets encounter greater atmospheric loading than smaller vehicles.
Researchers at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will analyze the data recorded by nearly 200 sensors in the dummy crew module of Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mark-III), which reached Tamil Nadu's Kamarajar Port on Sunday, said a senior ISRO official.
S Somanath, project director, GSLV-Mark III told a leading news agency, "The crew module has around 200 sensors to record various aspects of the flight. Our team at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvanthapuram will study the data."

The crew module consists of a static recorder, which inspects the various aspects: thermal, acoustics, velocity, electronics performance, and more such.

On December 18, ISRO successfully launched its heaviest rocket ever—GSLV Mark-III—with an experimental crew module. With this, the Indian space agency will now be able to send astronauts to explore the deep dark web of outer space.

The 630-tonne rocket and human crew module of ISRO were lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota exactly at 9:30 am (IST). Few minutes after this, the crew module separated from the rocket at an altitude of 126 km and re-entered Earth's atmosphere (about 80 km from sea level). And then, it descended in a ballistic mode and splashed down into the Bay of Bengal, some 180 km from Indira Point, which is the southern tip of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, reported PTI.

The total budget of the experimental mission carried out by the Indian space agency was Rs 155 crore, and this includes the cost of crew module as well.

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