In its second mission, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) failed to launch a satellite by a GSLV rocket for Earth observation. The cryogenic engine on the rocket didn’t perform as expected, according to NASA on Thursday morning.
At 5:45 am, On Thursday, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched the GSLV-F10 from the second launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota riding atop the Earth Observation Satellite (EOS-03).
Liftoff was cleared by ISRO’s Launch Authorization Board before liftoff. According to scientists at the Mission Control Centre, the first and second stages of the rocket also performed normally.
Moments later, however, the scientists were spotted talking about the mission, and the range operations director then reported that the “mission could not be fully accomplished due to performance anomalies” in the “cryogenic stage”.
EOS-03 was intended to be launched into geostationary orbit. In addition to rendering near-real-time imagery of large areas of interest at frequent intervals, the satellite was expected to provide early warning for natural disasters, episodic events, or any short-term events.
Astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, who tracks spaceflights, says that stage of the rocket, along with the cryogenic engine, and the payload, is expected to have crashed into the Andaman Sea ten minutes after launch.
This is the second launch this year for the Bengaluru-based space agency after the launch of Brazil’s earth observation satellite Amazonia-1 and 18 co-passengers in February.
GSLV rockets are currently operated by ISRO in two versions. The MK1 model is no longer used.
In all three versions, there are three stages of flight using solid, liquid, and cryogenic fuels.
Liquid fuel is also used in the four strap-on boosters of the GSLV Mk 2. F10 launched using the GSLV in MK 2 configuration.
Nevertheless, the Mk 2 and the Mk3 configurations are quite different in design and hardware.
Geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) is a circular orbit that connects low-Earth orbit and geosynchronous orbit. Thus, the GSLV launch vehicle is primarily used to place satellites into this orbit.
The satellite’s onboard engine is used to guide it into the geosynchronous orbit once it has been placed in the GTO.
A PSLV can’t launch the satellites typically placed in the GTO because of its height and weight. Since cryogenic engines are used in the launch’s third and uppermost stage, the GSLVs are able to reach such altitudes.
In the case of the F10 mission, the GISAT-1 satellite weighed 2268 kg – well over the PSLV’s maximum weight allowance of 1500 kg.
Liquid hydrogen and liquefied oxygen are combusted in cryogenic engines to produce more thrust than other fuels because hydrogen has unique chemical properties.
Nevertheless, hydrogen and oxygen are very reactive, which makes these engines difficult to handle. Only liquid nitrogen can be used to cool them. And in liquefied form, they need special pumps and piping to move them from the tank to the engine.
Getting the cryogenic engine operation right will be crucial if ISRO is to perform heavy launches of more sophisticated satellites into higher orbits. The pumping of liquefied materials into engines by piping is essential.
Gaganyaan, ISRO’s highly anticipated indigenous human space flight project, will be launched on one of the launches. A more powerful GSLV Mk 3 rocket will be used for these missions.
Mk 3’s first stage of solid-fuel engines is strapped to the side, unlike the Mk 2. Using design elements from the Ukrainian RD-810 engine, ISRO scientists have developed a semi-cryogenic engine called the SCE-200, to propel future launches.
The SCE-200 uses liquefied oxygen to burn kerosene. It had been speculated that the engine might be used on Gaganyaan flights, but ISRO has said that due to the COVID-19 epidemic and other delays, the engine will not be used on Gaganyaan flights.
With the F10 flight, ISRO had also hoped to get back to its regular launch schedule, which had been disrupted by the epidemic.