Rocket launch failure will not delay moon mission: ISRO chief

April 15th, 2010 - 10:21 pm ICT by IANS  

ISRO By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh), April 15 (IANS) The failure of India’s GSLV-D3 rocket launch powered for the first time by an indigenous cryogenic engine will not delay the realization of the country’s second moon mission, ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan said Thursday.

“If we are able to flight test an indigenously built cryogenic engine in a year’s time, then Chandrayaan 2 can be realised by 2013,” Radhakrishnan told reporters post the launch here.

The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Development 3 rocket plunged into the Bay Bengal after its cryogenic engine failed to ignite, in a setback to India’s space programme.

ISRO’s Rs.330 crore-mission failed minutes after the rocket lifted off at 4.27 p.m.

ISRO had earlier announced its plans to use its GSLV rocket for its second moon mission.

Referring to the failed rocket flight he said: “The rocket lifted at 4.27 p.m after the 29-hour countdown that began Wednesday 11.27 a.m. The rocket performed as expected till the second stage into the flight.

“We were not sure whether the main cryogenic engine - the third stage - did ignite as the vehicle started tumbling. We have to confirm that after analysing the data which is expected to get over in two or three days.”

He said that while the cryogenic engine when tested on ground got ignited, during flight it had failed to get fired in vacuum.

The setback is serious as the rocket’s cryogenic engine is an outcome of 18-years’ labour on the part of ISRO scientists, spending around Rs.335 crore.

Queried how far the failure would put back ISRO’s clock, he said: “We have plans to realise 11 GSLV rockets. We have been fabricating necessary systems.”

According to him, ISRO will bounce back within a year by launching a rocket powered by indigenously developed cryogenic engine.

He said ISRO will be flying two more GSLV rockets fitted with Russian-made cryogenic engines to launch two GSAT series satellites.

“The next GSLV rocket with Russian cryogenic engine will fly from here sometime in September this year,” he said.

On the issue of sourcing cryogenic engines from outside, he said: “The primary issue is to be self reliant in rocket technology. Today we are able to realise a cryogenic engine for Rs.36 crore whereas if procured from overseas the price will be around $20 million or Rs.90 crore.”

According to him, GSLV is working to bring down the launch cost, which currently is around $20,000 per kilo of payload.

“We should bring down the cost to $10,000 per kilo once we realise GSLV Mark III (the advanced version of GSLV rocket),” he said.

Speaking of other launches, he said a cartography satellite will be flown on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) next month along with a couple of small satellites as co-passengers.

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