India to launch communication satellite

The GSLV Mk III lifts off from the Sriharikota space centre on Monday

"Congratulations to the dedicated scientists of ISRO for the successful launch of GSLV - MKIII D1/GSAT-19 mission", he said.

He added that India has "mastered" the cryogenic engine technology with the successful flight demonstration of the CE-20 engine, which generates 44,000 pounds of thrust in vacuum, twice the power of the US -built Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10 cryogenic engine used on Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets. Prior to the MKIII, ISRO would have had to rely on a foreign launch agency for this.

Reports said if the launch succeeds ISRO plans to seek financial assistance from the federal government to station Indians in space.

If it succeeds, the single GSAT-19 satellite will be equivalent to having a constellation of 6-7 of the older variety of communication satellites in space. The Mk II variant of the GSLV has the same build but uses the CE7.5 cryogenic engine, which is not completely indigenous.

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India has long worked towards developing its own cryogenic engine, the upper stage engine technology required to carry heavier communication satellites, as showcased in Monday's launch.

In order to build a heavy launch rocket, ISRO needed to flawless multi-stage cryogenic engines (engines that use gases liquefied and stored at very low temperatures).

According to Kumar, there will be one more developmental flight of 640 ton GSLV Mk III, with a capacity to lift four ton satellites, before it graduates to operational mode.

The Indian space agency had flown a similar rocket without the cryogenic engine but with 3.7-tonne payload in 2014 mainly to test its structural stability while in flight and the aerodynamics. ISRO officials said this was an "out and out indigenous engine". "And there is a lot of opportunity to launch communication satellites of India as well those of other countries because 4-ton is a good range for communication satellites", he told PTI in a telephonic interview.

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India puts foreign satellites into orbit for a fee using its lighter PSLV. Earlier this year, the organization had broken the world record of NASA by launching 104 satellites all at once. Scientists were now involved in the propellant filling operations of the heaviest GSLV-Mk III D1, officials said.

Although India has successfully launched lighter satellites in recent years, this latest rocket is capable of carrying a massive four-tonne payload into high orbit - twice the capacity of its predecessor, ISRO says.

After its separation from the GSLV MK III in GTO, satellite GSAT-19 will reach its geostationary orbital home using an electronic propulsion system. It could even mean manned mission by India into space.

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