The 24-and-a-half hour countdown for India’s maiden experimental launch of latest generation vehicle GSLV Mk III, also carrying the ‘Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE), began at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, some 100 km from here, today.
“The 24 and a half hour countdown for the mission has commenced at 9 a.m on December 17,” ISRO said.
The Mission Readiness Review and the Launch Authorisation Board, which met yesterday, has cleared the launch for December 18 at 9.30 a.m, it said.
A senior ISRO official explained that the lesser duration of the countdown for the mission was due to the dummy cryogenic stage.
As per the plan, soon after the lift-off at Sriharikota, ISRO would study the flight validation of the complex atmospheric flight regime of LVM 3 and would also test the ability of the CREW module to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere with thermal resistance, parachute deployment in cluster formation, aero braking system and apex cover separation procedures.
The CREW module would be separated from the rocket about 325.52 seconds after the lift-off at 126.16 km altitude. The specially made parachutes would help the module ‘soft-crash’ in the Bay of Bengal, some few hundred km from Indira Point in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which would later be fetched by Indian Coast Guard ships.
“The entire exercise would be completed in around 20 to 30 minutes from lift-off in Sriharikota to splashing in the Bay of Bengal,” the official said.
While the rocket cost ISRO Rs 140 crore, the crew module has taken another Rs 15 crore.
The 630-tonne GSLV-Mk III would carry the 3.65 tonne crew module even as the national space agency is equipping itself for its plan of sending astronauts into space eventually.
The Indian government has not approved any human mission to space presently.
Realisation of 42.4 metre tall GSLV Mk-III would help ISRO place heavier satellites into orbit.
GSLV Mk III is conceived and designed to make ISRO fully self-reliant in launching heavier communication satellites of INSAT-4 class, which weigh 4,500 to 5,000 kg. It would also enhance India’s capability to be a competitive player in the multi-million dollar commercial launch market.