GSLV Rises... And Falls
Forty-eight hours after the GSLV mission, powered by the first indigenous cryogenic engine, failed on Thursday, Isro will begin a probe into the incident on Saturday. Isro officials said that top propulsion scientists will meet at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram to analyse the cause of the debacle. The meeting, which will be the first in a series in the days ahead, will be chaired by S Ramakrishna, director, projects (VSSC). On Thursday, after a flawless take-off from Sriharikota at 4.27 pm. the rocket started flying out of control, lost altitude and plunged into Bay of Bengal eight minutes on. Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan had indicated in the aftermath that the setback could be due to the ignition failure of the vernier thrusters in the engine. But experts haven’t lost hope as they believe launch failures are pillar to success. ‘‘Failures are common in space flights and are considered as learning experiences,’’ said National Space Society, Indian chapter, chief Suresh Naik. NSS is an affiliate to the main US body. Naik, a former Isro employee, said from Pune that, years ago, even the first rocket flights in the US and Japan, which were powered with cryogenic engines, failed. ‘‘Though we feel disappointed, there is nothing to feel disheartened about. In space missions this is expected. We do not have the data about the cryogenic rocket engine failures in China and Russia,’’ he said. He added that the main cryogenic engine had ignited, which indicated that its performance was satisfactory. However, the problem started when its vernier thrusters failed to ignite, resulting loss of control. ‘‘The immediate implication of this failure would be that our programme to launch heavier communication satellites using an indigenous cryogenic engine will be somewhat delayed,’’ Naik said. Isro is planning to launch an advanced remote-sensing satellite, Cartosat-2B, on May 9 from the first launchpad at Sriharikota. Out of six launches, this is the second time that the GSLV has failed .