TIRUNELVELI: Inching closer to India’s long-standing dream of becoming fully self-reliant on space technology, the team at Indian Space Research Organisation’s Propulsion Complex conducted a long duration test of the indigenous cryogenic engine for GLSV Mark-3, on Friday evening. The first flight of the vessel, ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar told reporters, could be as early as the end of the year.
“The indigenously designed and developed cryogenic engine was successfully tested today, making it possible to carry payloads of 4,000 kgs,” Kiran Kumar said after the ‘hot test’ at 5.15 pm at the complex in Mahendragiri here. It lasted for 635 seconds, he said.
Officials told Express that it now is possible to build cryogenic engines that can be mated to the GSLV Mark – 3. If things go according to their plan, the first GSLV launch with indigenously built cryogenic upper stage could be in December.
Cryogenic is a complex and complicated technology which once mastered would enable India to launch heavier payloads to greater distances for which it is now reliant on foreign spaceports, primarily those operated by the European Space Agency.
The Cryogenic stage– where the propellant is stored in extremely low temperatures – gives a vessel additional carrying capacity of four tonnes and more, which in turn significantly improves the capability of the satellites and other payloads. India’s favoured rocket, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), has only the solid and liquid stages, which, while efficient, can ferry only about half of that.
It is, however, a complex technology – Kiran Kumar noted that they have so far conducted a series of 42 tests starting from the first, which lasted just 30 seconds. As it enables a rocket to go farther carrying bigger payloads, it is also a sensitive, dual-use technology – it is used in intercontinental ballistic missiles. India was denied it after atomic tests, but not before acquiring a few engines from Russia.
Now, India is the sixth country to have the capability after USA, Russia, China, Japan, and the Europen Space Agency (ESA), said V Narayanan, the acting director of Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre.
Kiran Kumar said the future launches include navigating satellite, earth observation satellite among others, adding that the agency would like to increase the number of launches.
Asked whether ISRO was considering setting up a launch pad at Kulasekarapattinam in Thoothukudi district, the he said the need of another launch facility would only arise when we have more launches. About the planet missions of ISRO, Kiran Kumar said the agency was working on Chandrayan 2 and Aditiya. Chandrayan 2 would be launched by the end of 2017 or the beginning of 2018, he added.
K Sivan, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space centre, Thiruvananthapuram and IPRC Director S. Rakesh were also present.