The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) on Sunday successfully launched GSAT-14 using indigenously developed Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Development 5 (GSLV D5), putting India in a club of countries with the technology to put heavy satellites into orbit.
The 49.13-metre-tall rocket, carrying a communication satellite, took off precisely at 4:18 pm from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), in this island in the Bay of Bengal, about 90 km north of Chennai. After 17 minutes, the 414.75-ton rocket had successfully placed the communication satellite, which carried six extended C-Band and Ku-Band and two KA-Band Becons, into the orbit.
The mission assumes significance in many ways. First, the success is a morale booster for Isro as the previous flight test of the indigenously developed cryogenic upper stage (CUS) in the GSLV-D3 mission failed on April 15, 2010. The subsequent GSLV flight, with a Russian cryogenic stage, had also ended in failure in December 2010.
Secondly, it paves the way for sizeable savings for the country in launch costs. Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan told a news agency that the country paid around $85-90 million (around Rs 500 crore) as launch fee for sending a 3.5-tonne communication satellite whereas the GSLV rocket costs around Rs 220 crore. The GSAT-14 was launched on Sunday at a cost of Rs 145 crore.
Thirdly, it also opens up a window to earn foreign exchange from launching heavier foreign satellites in which direction Isro has now taken the first step. Building rockets that can carry heavier payloads, up to four tons, will put India in the elite club that includes the United States, Russia, France, Japan and China.
The space agency was to launch this rocket in August, 2013 but aborted it hours before the deadline as the fuel started leaking from its second stage or engine. Radhakrishnan thanked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his support and encouragement even during the previous launch failure. “Sir, this (mission) is dedicated to you,” he said.