ISRO’s heaviest rocket, the GSLV-Mk III has made its first take off with the 3,136-kg GSAT-19 communication satellite on board. It was launched from Shriharikota at 5:28pm on Monday, and will sling the GSAT-19 at an altitude of 179km, just over 16 minutes into its flight. The three stage/ engine rocket is 43.43 meter tall and weighs 640 tonnes; the core of first stage is fired with solid fuel and its two motors by liquid fuel. The second is liquid fuel and the third is the cryogenic engine.

“It is a historic day … both the GSLV Mk-III and the GSAT-19 launch have been successful.. we are looking forward to its (GSAT-19) operations,” Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar said.

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GSLV-Mk III rocket and GSAT-19 satellite

The GSAT-19 is a multi-beam satellite that carries Ka and Ku band forward and return link transponders and geostationary radiation spectrometer (GRASP) to monitor and study the nature of charged particles and the influence of space radiation on satellites and their electronic components. This satellite has a life span of 10 years and it has advanced spacecraft technologies including miniaturised heat pipe, a fibre optic gyro, micro electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) accelerometer, Ku-band TTC transponder, as well an indigenous lithium-ion battery.

“The rocket’s design carrying capacity is four tonnes. The payload will be gradually increased in future flights,” Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre Director K. Sivan had told IANS.

India presently has two rockets – the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and GSLV-Mk II – with a lift-off mass of 415 tonnes and a carrying capacity of 2.5 tonnes. India puts foreign satellites into orbit for a fee using its lighter rocket PSLV. However, the weight of third party satellites is not much. Revenue for launching satellites depends on the satellite’s weight – higher the weight, higher the revenue.

But the GSLV-Mk III is not enough for India to become a serious player in global communication satellite launch market. A major portion of communication satellites that are sent up now weigh around six tons and above.


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