Sriharikota: Bad weather is never a good thing, especially if it comes down heavily hours before you're putting a rocket that costs Rs 140 crore into orbit. But unlike the GSLVs of yore, this reinforced, super-powered Mrk III is unfazed. "All our launch vehicles are completely waterproof and though the rain was quite heavy, there is no change In the launch sequence," said an ISRO spokesperson at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.
Despite it having poured near Sulurpet, Sriharikota and even Srikalahasthi from 5.30 am, the skies cleared by 9.15 am - just before the launch sequence began.
Assembled at the launch site over the last three months, the rocket is carrying the CARE module - which is ISRO's experimental astronaut carrier, to test it's capability in achieving reentry into Earth's orbit and splashing down without disintegrating. Hailed as an important step in India's Manned Space Programme that is expected to take flight by 2016, this will be an acid test.
With less than ten minutes left for blast-off, the mission is being conducted with ISRO Chief Dr K Radhakrishnan watching.