India successfully tests home grown cryogenic upper stage engine

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully ground tested for 8min its new regeneratively cooled 15,600lb-thrust (69.5kN) cryogenic liquid-oxygen/liquid-hydrogen upper-stage engine at its Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre at Mahendragiri, close to the southern tip of India.

The engine will replace the Russian-supplied upper stage now used for ISRO's 49m (160ft)-tall three-stage Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), which has a gross lift-off weight of 414,000kg (910,800lb). The 8min test is to be followed by a full duration firing for 12min, and the engine's maiden flight is planned for next year.

With the Indian cryogenic engine stage, GSLV will be capable of placing 2,500kg mass satellites into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

The GSLV was declared operational after successful development flights in April 2001 and May 2003 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota island on India's eastern coast.

The vehicle has been improved over its last four flights, increasing its GTO payload capability from 1,530kg in its first test flight to 2,168kg for its fourth flight.

Meanwhile, ISRO is planning for its heavylift, 42m-tall, GSLV-MK III to have its maiden flight before the end of this decade.

The three-stage GSLV-MK III is designed to place a 4,000kg class satellite into GTO. It is also expected to be used for launching India's proposed 2015 manned mission.