Sci-tech

India hopes new rocket can carry humans into space

India hopes new rocket can carry humans into space

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully launched its heaviest and most powerful rocket GSLV Mark III carrying GSAT-19 communication satellite on Monday.

GSLV Mk III-D1, carrying GSAT-19, lifted off as scheduled, at 5:28 pm today, from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

The first suborbital test flight of GSLV Mk III was successfully launched on December 14, 2016 and today's flight is the heaviest ever in ISRO history carrying GSAT-19, the communications satellite with a lift-off mass of 3136 kg.

ISRO Chairman Krishna Kumar described the launch as an "historic day".

Following the GSLV-Mark III's success, India can now launch four-tonne satellites on its own rocket instead of paying huge amounts of money to foreign space agencies to execute the operation.

In addition to the new GSLV-Mk III, India has two rockets - Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and GSLV-Mk II, capable of lifting into space 2.5 tons of cargo.

"The nation is proud", he tweeted.

Despite the initial setbacks, GSLV Mk II was developed and the rocket, fired by an indigenously made cryogenic engine, had four consecutive successful launches since January 2014.

Kiran Kumar said Modi called him and congratulated each member of the ISRO team for the successful mission.

To explain the importance of it in as ELI5 a manner as possible - the GSLV Mk III is the rocket ISRO is hoping will one day take our future astronauts into space.

The rocket used a cryogenic engine, developed in India after the United States leaned on Russian Federation in the 1990s not to supply such a powerful engine in case it was used for missiles.

Other than communication satellites, the payload on board the rocket will consist of machinery to be used in monitoring and studying the nature of charged particles and the influence of space radiation on satellites and their electronic components.

It is a technology seen as being crucial for launching heavier payloads - which in this case is the GSAT-19 at 3,136 kg.

The GSLV Mk III is created to carry four ton-class satellites into orbit, opening up the possibility of future human spaceflight programmes. However, their 13-story-high, 640-ton GSLV Mk III vehicle marks a new stage for nation's spacefaring ambitions, as it was designed by Indian researchers for transporting large devices and, eventually, astronaut capsules into orbit.

India wants to become the fourth nation - following in the footsteps of Russian Federation, the U.S. and China - to put astronauts into orbit, but its manned space flight programme has experienced multiple stops and starts. "Some engineers have spent their life working on this", Mathieu Weiss, a representative in India for France's space agency CNES, said.


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