India successfully launched its three-stage Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), equipped with a Russian-supplied cryogenic upper engine stage, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota island on India's east coast on the evening of 2 September.

The launch put the INSAT-4CR communications satellite into orbit and followed the failure of a GSLV mission on 10 July 2006. That failure, which destroyed INSAT-4C, was traced to a lack of thrust in one of the four strap-on liquid propellant stages.

G Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, described as "excellent" the performance of the 49m (160ft) -tall, 414t GSLV, which was developed by ISRO to end India's dependence on procured launch vehicles for orbiting its INSAT class of domestic satellites.

The GSLV first stage is a 138t solid propellant core motor with four liquid propellant strap-on motors strung around it. The second stage liquid fuel and the upper stage is a cryogenic engine with 12.5t of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. An ISRO-developed cryogenic stage, expected to power GSLV flight, is slated for 2008.

The 2,130kg (4,700lb) INSAT-4CR, featuring 12 high power Ku band transponders, is the heaviest satellite yet launched from India. It is expected to improve high-rate data transmission services in India.

Nair says ISRO is planning two more launches of its four-stage space workhorse, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, this year. Payloads are yet to be determined, he says. But there is speculation that a core-alone version of PSLV will launch an Israel-built military reconnaissance satellite.

Source: Flight International