The Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) first recoverable space capsule, SRE-1, successfully splashed down in the Bay of Bengal on 22 January, 12 days after its launch by Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from India's Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

Launched into a 635km (395 miles) circular polar orbit, where a variety of microgravity experiments were performed, SRE-1 was placed into an elliptical orbit with a 485km perigee and a 637km apogee in preparation for re-entry.

After a 10min de-orbit burn, SRE-1 was re-orientated for its re-entry into the atmosphere. The capsule re-entered the atmosphere at 50km altitude with a velocity of 15,675kt (29,000km/h), thermal protection provided by carbon phenolic ablative material and silica tiles.

On reaching 16,300ft (5,000m) during its descent, aerodynamic braking having reduced the capsule's speed to 196kt, pilot and drogue parachutes were deployed to slow it to 92kt.

The space capsule's main parachute was deployed at 6,560ft and the splashdown was made at 23kt, 140km east of Sriharikota, its flotation system keeping it afloat.

The experiment was supported by ground stations at Bangalore, Lucknow, Mauritius, Sriharikota, Biak in Indonesia, Saskatoon in Canada, Svalbard in Norway and by shipborne and airborne terminals.

ISRO had to abort its first full-duration test of the indigenous cryogenic upper-stage engine for the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle 30s into the planned 720s firing. Faulty readings from two sensors in the mission computer halted the 19 January test.

Source: Flight International