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What next for Isro?

If you were thinking that Isro scientists will take a break after the successful launch of the Mars Orbiter, you are mistaken. 

The Indian space agency has lined up a series of launches, including a test flight of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark-III, an advanced version of the current GSLV, which will have double the capacity of the current launch vehicle.

“GSLV Mark-III will be Isro’s next major event,” said K Radhakrishnan, chairman, Isro. 

The Mark-III can launch a 4-tonne communication satellite into geostationary orbit compared to the current capacity of 2-2.2 tonne. 

Once this vehicle gets ready, India will not need to depend upon the European space consortium, Arianespace, to carry its 4-tonne class of Insat communication satellites. This rocket will also be used to fly astronauts from Sriharikota. 

Radhakrishnan said that the vehicle will go up to an altitude of 120 km and velocity of nearly 5.3 km per second. During this ascent phase, the aerodynamic characterisation, control system will be tested. 

“Full engine has been assembled now, we are going to start the ground testing of the engine in few months now. This engine will have a thrust level of nearly 20 tonne as compared to 7.5 tonne of the GSLV we flew in January 2014,” he said.

“We are also using the opportunity to test the re-enter characteristics of the crew module, by flying unmanned crew model in this,” he said. 

Isro is also planning to launch an experimental mission, with a passive cryogenic engine, which means the cryogenic stage will not be operational. The significance of the flight is that it will test the crew compartment as it re-enters and splashes into the Bay of Bengal. 

Radhakrishnan said that the ground test for the cryogenic engine is currently underway at Mahendragiri.

“By the time, cryogenic stage ready for the flight we will also study from the experimental mission about the vehicle configuration and aerodynamic behavior and if any marginal improvements are needed, we can improve”, said Radhakrishnan.

“The launch of Mark-III would be after the PSLV C26 launch. It could be late October or November, based on the weather conditions,” he said. 

Before Mark-III, Isro is planning to launch PSLV C26, with IRNSS 1B satellite, which will be the third navigation satellite. It may be noted, first one in the series was launched in July, followed by the second in April.

“Third one will be in the first half October. Operations are going at the moment, spacecraft is at Sriharikotta, vehicle assembly has already started,” said Radhakrishnan, adding that by December fourth navigation satellite will also be launched.

The remaining three will be launched in 2015, taking the count of navigation satellites to seven.

The GSLV, which was flown in January, will have its next flight in the second quarter of 2015 and will be used to launch the GSAT 6 satellite. Few more communication satellites are also lined up, said Radhakrishnan.

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