The countdown for the Thursday morning test launch of India’s heaviest and next generation rocket-Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-Mark III) carrying a crew module began at 9 a.m Wednesday, said a senior official of the Indian space agency.Though called a crew module, it will not carry any living being and is being sent up only to test its re-entry characteristics. “The countdown for the rocket launch has just started. Everything relating to the rocket launch is clear. The rocket launch is slated for Thursday at 9.30 a.m,” M. Y.S. Prasad, director of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, told IANS over phone.
The 630 tonne rocket will be powered by liquid and solid fuel engines while the cryogenic stage/engine will be a passive one. During the countdown, the rocket’s liquid fuel engine will be fuelled up and the passive cryogenic engine at the top will be filled with liquid nitrogen for mass simulation, Prasad said. Earlier speaking to IANS, Prasad said the rocket’s electronic systems would be switched on around 1 a.m. Thursday. The actual cryogenic engine to power the rocket carrying an around four tonne satellite is under development and is expected to be ready in two years time.
As the other rocket engines are ready, ISRO decided to have this mission. The experimental mission will cost Rs.155 crore and will not carry any satellite as the cryogenic engine needed for the purpose is under development, Prasad reiterated. As to the crew module, it will not carry any living being and was only for study purposes. The main objective of the crew module is to demonstrate its re-entry flight and aero braking; end-to-end parachute system validation. The rocket will go up to 126 km and then crew capsule will be detached and it will fall into the Bay of Bengal, 20 minutes after blast off.
The descent speed of the crew module will be controlled on board motors for some distance and then by three parachutes. The module will splash down 600 km from Port Blair and 1,600 km from the space centre. The capsule will be recovered by an Indian Coast Guard or Indian Navy ship. The crew module, looking like a giant-size cup cake – black in colour on top and brown at the bottom – weighs around four tonnes. According to an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) official, it will be in the size of a small bedroom and can accommodate 2-3 people. “The crew module after being recovered from the sea will first be taken to the Ennore Port (near here) and from there it will be brought to Sriharikota. From Sriharikota the module will be taken to VSSC (Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre-Thiruvananthapuram),” Prasad said.
On Monday, all the pyro systems fitted in the rocket were armed, he said.