The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has test-fired its CS indigenous cryogenic third-stage engine for the Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) for a record 1,000s at the Mahendragiri liquid propulsion systems centre in Tamil Nadu.The CS will fly on the GSLV in late 2003 or 2004, replacing the Russian KVD-1 cryogenic engine currently used.

ISRO says a GSLV launch costs $300 million - but it hopes to cut this to boost competitiveness. It also plans a larger cryogenic engine stage for the GSLV Mk-III, capable of putting a 4,000kg (8,800lb) payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit.

The test followed the successful launch of India's first dedicated meteorological satellite, the 1,060kg Metsat, into a 218km (135 miles) by 34,700km geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) on 12 September on the first GTO mission of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (Flight International, 17-23 September).

Meanwhile, ISRO chairman Dr K Kasturirangan says India will be able to realise its lunar mission by 2007. Indian space scientists have carried out detailed studies and run many hours of computer simulations in the last two years to determine the mission's feasibility, says Kasturirangan. Plans for the mission have been submitted to the National Scientists Group for approval. They will then go to the government for final clearance.

ISRO's Lunar Task Force has proposed sending an orbiter into a 100km lunar orbit. Task force chairman Dr George Joseph says it will carry a terrain-mapping camera, a hyperspectral imager, a laser ranging instrument, a low-energy X-ray spectrometer and a hard X-ray and gamma ray spectrometer. The camera will take 5m (16.4ft)-resolution photographs, while the other devices will examine what lies under the lunar surface.

Source: Flight International