GSLV jinx continues as fuel leak defers launch
By Shyam Balasubramanian | Published: 20th August 2013 11:01 AM |
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) seems to have been unable to break the jinx of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), as the launch of GSLV-D5 on Monday was aborted due to a leak in the rocket’s fuel system. ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan said the reasons for the snag were yet unclear and that the rocket would be put through close scrutiny before the launch could be rescheduled.
The launch of GSLV-D5 held crucial significance for the ISRO, as the rocket featured an indigenously developed cryogenic stage. Though little consolation, it was not the cryogenic stage that failed, but the liquid-propelled second stage, which the ISRO has a track record of having perfected on its workhorse Polar Synchronous Launch Vehicle (PSLV) platform.
The leak was noticed by the Command Centre over the vented stage (the grilled space between the different stages of the rocket) between the first and second stages, about two hours before the scheduled 4.50 pm lift-off. After attempts to stem the leak failed, the ISRO aborted the launch an hour and 14 minutes before the scheduled launch (T Minus 1:14:20). The leak was detected even as the fuel for the third stage was being pumped into the rocket.
“There was a leak in the fuel system of the second stage of the vehicle. So, we called off the launch. Immediately after this, our team took action to drain the propellant from both stages. Soon after that, we will move the GSLV to the Vehicle Assembly Building to ascertain the cause, and to determine what actions we have to take before we reschedule the launch,” said Radhakrishnan. He reserved comment on what exactly went wrong, saying the ISRO team would have to examine the data available before reaching a conclusion.
While the space agency could take comfort in the fact that the mission was aborted before the rocket took off, ISRO’s long struggle with the GSLV is set to continue.