CHENNAI: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is back in mission mode and gearing up to launch PSLV-C40, carrying earth observation Cartosat-2 satellite along with 28 foreign passenger satellites, including 25 nano-satellites and three micro-satellites.
The launch has been tentatively fixed for January 10. This will be the maiden flight after meeting with failure in August.
The launch will be a litmus test for India’s workhorse PSLV in terms of reliability and robustness. Though PSLV has seamlessly carried out 39 consecutive successfully launches, the last failure has thrown up several questions over the technology being used. In this context, ISRO has taken a four-month interval to revisit some of the core areas.
K Sivan, director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, told Express that a few modifications had been done, especially payload fairing, after analysing the reasons for the failure of PSLV-C39/IRNSS-1H Satellite mission.
“We have done some modifications to improve the design robustness and correspondingly, simulation tests have been performed,” he said.
PSLV-C39 was unsuccessful primarily because heat shield separation did not take place. Everything in the vehicle — first stage, second stage, third stage and separation events — performed normally. But, the heat shield that protects the satellite within the atmospheric regime didn’t separate and as a result, the satellite got encased inside the enclosure.
The entire fourth stage, along with the heat shield and satellite, has become nothing but space junk, which meant a waste of `350 crore. Camera visuals showed the satellite getting separated internally and moving inside the heat shield.
It was only the second failure for PSLV in its 25-year history. The vehicle has launched 48 Indian satellites and 209 satellites for customers from abroad. Besides, the vehicle successfully launched two spacecraft – Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 and Mars Orbiter Spacecraft in 2013 – that later travelled to Moon and Mars respectively. It also holds the world record for having put into space 104 satellites in one go earlier this year.
Meanwhile, ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar said the space agency is facing the busiest year ahead with a cluster of launches lined up, which include Chandrayaan-2 in March.
ISRO also plans to launch the second flight of GSLV MkIII, carrying the heaviest payload ever. The last successful GSLV MkIII launch was carried out on June 5, carrying a 3.2 tonne GSAT-19 communication satellite.
“This time, we are looking to launch a communication satellite of GSAT series which will be close to the 4-tonne class. It will carry new versions of optical communication and high frequency Q&V band,” he said.
PSLV-C39 was unsuccessful primarily because its heat shield separation did not take place. Everything else performed normally
This resulted in the entire fourth stage of PSLV-C39, along with the heat shield and satellite, becoming space junk
An improved PSLV-C40, carrying earth observation Cartosat-2 satellite along with 28 foreign passenger satellites, including 25 nano-satellites and three micro-satellites, may lift off on Jan 10