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The Hindu reports on the failed rocket launch on Christmas day:

While disappointment haunts the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) about the two successive failures of the Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) missions, there is fear whether the failures will affect the schedule of ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 and the human space flight programmes.

The fear is fuelled by the fact that it is GSLV-Mark II with an indigenous cryogenic engine that will put Chandrayaan-2 in orbit in 2013-14. The upgraded GSLV-Mark III, which is under development, will carry two Indians into space in low earth orbit around 2016. Besides, ISRO is hard-pressed for transponders to cater to India’s booming telecommunication, telecasting and radio broadcasting requirements.

While the GSLV-F06, with the GSAT-5P on board failed on December 25, 2010, the GSLV-D3, with indigenous cryogenic engine, failed on April 15, 2010. Including these two failures, four out of a total of seven GSLV missions have failed since 2001. The GSLV is a three-stage vehicle. The first stage uses solid propellants with four strap-on booster motors. The second stage uses liquid propellants. The third topmost stage uses cryogenic propellants. The GSLV is 51 metres long.

There is disappointment among ISRO’s rocket technologists that the GSLV mission on December 25 failed because of “a very, very trivial issue.” They said it failed because the signal from the equipment bay, which houses the electronic brain of the vehicle and is housed atop the rocket, to control the vehicle, did not reach the first stage. A bunch of wires, running to more than 45 metres, convey these signals from the equipment bay and the wires terminate in the three stages of the vehicle. Since these wires are so long, they are connected by devices called connectors, which are akin to plugs and sockets. It is these connectors that hold these wires in place.

An authoritative ISRO rocket technologist said four such connectors came loose or were prised open because of “some disturbance” in the flight and so the wires, which convey the signal for controlling the rocket, lost their continuity. “If some connectors open up, the wires will not have continuity. It is a very, very trivial issue. So the command for controlling the rocket from the equipment bay did not reach the first stage. An uncontrolled rocket will fail. That is what happened. We are in the investigation mode,” he said.

Meanwhile an anonymous ex-expert told HT:

Instability introduced by excessive payload weight was most likely responsible for the failure of an Indian rocket’s launch on Christmas day, an expert in the field and former scientist of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) says. The scientist, with over two decades of experience with
rocket motors, who did not want to be quoted has disputed ISRO’s reasoning that the Rs 3 billion ($66 million) mission that was meant to launch an advanced communications satellite was brought down because some cables snapped during the ascent of the Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

December 27, 2010 at 4:33 pm

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