India shows off space prowess with launch of mega rocket

Published: June 5, 2017
India is set to launch its most powerful rocket to date in another milestone for its space programme that one day hopes to send manned missions. PHOTO: AFP

India is set to launch its most powerful rocket to date in another milestone for its space programme that one day hopes to send manned missions. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI: India’s most powerful homegrown rocket to date is set to launch Monday, another milestone for its indigenous space programme that one day hopes to put a man into orbit.

The 43-metre (140-foot) rocket is scheduled to lift off just before 5:30 pm (1200 GMT) from the southern island of Sriharikota, one of two sites used by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to launch satellites.

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This latest model boasts a powerful engine that has been developed in India over many years. Programme managers hope the technology will reduce reliance on European engines that have propelled some of India’s spacecraft in the past.

The GSLV Mk III rocket will carry a satellite weighing more than three tonnes into a high orbit above Earth, a landmark achievement as India had struggled to match the heavier payloads of other space giants.

“This is an important moment in India’s space technology to launch an indigenous heavy rocket,” Ajay Lele from the Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses told AFP.

“Communication satellites are quite heavy and we were able to send up to two tonnes previously. This is a double quantum jump for India.”

A successful launch of the 640-tonne rocket will be another feather in the cap for scientists at ISRO, who won Asia’s race to Mars in 2014 when an Indian spacecraft reached the Red Planet on a shoe-string budget.

That feat carved out India’s reputation as a reliable low-cost option for space exploration, with its $73 million price tag drastically undercutting NASA’s Maven Mars $671-million mission.

ISRO is also mulling the idea of missions to Jupiter and Venus.
India is vying for a vying for a larger slice of the booming commercial satellite business as phone, internet and other companies seek greater and more high-end communications.

In February, India put a record 104 satellites in orbit from a single rocket, surpassing Russia which launched 39 satellites in one mission in June 2014.

The rocket’s main cargo was a 714-kilogram (1,574-pound) satellite for Earth observation but it was also loaded with 103 smaller “nano satellites”, nearly all from other countries.

Although India has successfully launched lighter satellites in recent years, this latest rocket is capable of carrying a massive four-tonne payload into high orbit — twice the capacity of its predecessor, ISRO says.

The space agency tested a less-developed version of the rocket in December 2014 while the cryogenic engine was still in the testing phase.

India puts record 104 satellites into orbit

It carried an unmanned crew capsule which separated from the rocket and splashed down in the Bay of Bengal off India’s east coast 20 minutes after liftoff.

The Indian-made capsule was designed to carry up to three astronauts but ISRO said the project would take at least another seven years to reach the point where a crew could be put into space.
India wants to become the fourth nation — after Russia, the United States and China — to put astronauts into orbit but its manned spaceflight programme has seen multiple stops and starts.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Vinay
    Jun 5, 2017 - 10:13AM

    And definetly,it will be a successful launch…Recommend

  • Giri
    Jun 5, 2017 - 10:15AM

    India is emerging super power in 21st century. In next 10 years India will be dominant economic and military power in the world. And world knows it. They all support India for this very reason.Recommend

  • k
    Jun 5, 2017 - 11:01AM

    it took 12 years to an Indian MNC that is in Valves manufacturing to develop the valve to sustain cryogenic temperatures & sudden variations of temperatures, sales head of that company told us this during his sales visit in our company.Recommend

  • Ahmad
    Jun 5, 2017 - 12:49PM


  • hari
    Jun 5, 2017 - 1:23PM

    Indirectly, now India got ICBM capabilities over 10k kmsRecommend

  • Etna Cincinati
    Jun 5, 2017 - 2:37PM

    What this also means is… technically India can also put a missile (ICBM) with any scale of payload in any part of the world. The very reason this technology was denied to India earlier. Interesting times. Recommend

  • Adil
    Jun 5, 2017 - 3:26PM

    Meantime, India’s ISRO arch rival Pakistan’s SUPARCO is busy remodeling their Chairman’s room. Recommend

  • Deepak Gupta
    Jun 5, 2017 - 3:32PM

    Every other day Indian citizen keep giving good news to India. Be it sports, science, films, music, arts, literature, democratic values etc. I love my India, our India. Recommend

  • Khan
    Jun 5, 2017 - 6:58PM

    I’m all happy for our neighbors if they’re developing since we are from same region and same people but lets not assume there is competition with any developed countries or even with China.
    All these sudden achievements started ever since they aligned themselves with the USA and the West. Most of these technologies comes directly from them instead of being developed indigenously over decades.
    Even today you go to any supermarket and like Pakistani products you will only find Indian spices, vegetables, clothes and crockery, the economy is booming mainly due to these exports and Western investment in the Job sectors etc. Let’s pray both neighbors sooner or later come together and compete in development and exports to other regions of the world.Recommend

  • Rajeev
    Jun 6, 2017 - 1:25AM

    Dear my Pakistan brothers, You see the developments in India on education, space science, technology, IT and defense, Why you don’t want to stop all these terrorist activities and come to India to make a joint venture like Afghanistan?It’s good for both countriesRecommend

  • Lolnappa
    Jun 6, 2017 - 8:25AM

    Regardless the difference of nations, this article looks beautiful. Recommend

  • Sad but True
    Jun 6, 2017 - 9:03AM

    You were aligned with USA and the West for seven decades. Why have you not got these achievements?Recommend

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