India Spearheading into Space Technology

India Spearheading into Space Technology
by Pawan Fangaria on 01-06-2014 at 11:00 am

Success follows failures, if your perseverance in high enough to achieve any kind of arduous goal. This adage was witnessed by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launching India’s first rocket, Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV D5 which carried GSAT 14 advanced communications satellite and successfully placed it in the orbit. Earlier two attempts had failed – one in last August was aborted before launching due to fuel leak from one of the rocket’s engines and the other in December 2010 (which employed Russian cryogenic engines) burst just after take-off. This exemplary success puts India into the small group of elite nations having this technology. As of date, only U.S., Japan, France, European Space Agency, China and Russia had this technology. By ushering into such advanced technology in global arena, Indian scientists bring unprecedented pride for India.

The GSLV D5 was indigenously developed in India by ISRO under its ambitious space programme. There was a need felt to put heavy satellites into higher orbits above 35000 KM from the Earth. India had been trying since long to develop its own cryogenic engines because a cryogenic rocket can provide higher thrust per kilogram of propellant. However cryogenic technology is extremely complex because of its propellants (liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen) which require extremely low temperatures; liquid hydrogen at below -250 degree centigrade and liquid oxygen at below -150 degree centigrade. This further involves thermal and structural issues of the engine. The rocket itself weighed about 415 tonnes and the GSAT 14 satellite, which it carried, weighed about 2 tonnes. The launch was done from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh state of India on Sunday, 5[SUP]th[/SUP] Jan.

Dr. K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman of ISRO is extremely proud of this accomplishment by his ‘Team ISRO’. On the momentous day he said, “Team ISRO and project directors put their heart and soul in making this proud moment for the country.” Including last 3-4 years of rigorous exercise, it took overall about 20 years to develop this proven cryogenic technology in the country. This makes India self-reliant in deploying its communication satellites into space; so far the rocket from France (Ariane) was being used to launch communication satellites in geostationary transfer orbits. The GSAT 14 satellite will be used for telecommunication and telemedicine applications.

This technology is expected to provide large push to Indian economy by saving foreign exchange for launching home satellites and at the same time earning large foreign cash for launching satellites of other countries in this lucrative global business, thus stabilizing the CAD (Current Account Deficit) situation in India. Today, in the international market, launching charge for a satellite is approximately 80 to 90 million USD. And demand for communication infrastructure is ever growing globally.

It’s a great feat for India which is struggling to balance its imports against exports. For that reason the India Government has been pursuing for two semiconductor foundries also in India, so that the chip manufacturing can be done here itself and not imported for its domestic demand. Let’s see how the future unfolds for India with this kind of technological thrust.

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