Indian rocket to go back to assembly building

Last Updated: Wed, Aug 21, 2013 09:10 hrs

Chennai, Aug 21 (IANS) The Indian space agency will be able to take its heavy rocket geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle-development 5(GSLV-D5) back to the rocket assembly building either Saturday or Sunday, a senior official said.

"Our current priority is to clean the rocket's fuel systems and disconnect all the hoses and other connections to the second launch pad. This process would take a couple of days. We will be able to move the rocket to the assembly building Saturday or Sunday," the official, preferring anonymity, told IANS Wednesday.

India's spaceport is located in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, around 80 km from here.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Monday called off the launch of its GSLV rocket carrying the communication satellite GSAT-14, after the liquid fuel started leaking like a tap from the rocket's second stage.

The GSLV is a three-stage launch vehicle with four strap-on motors hugging the first stage.

The first stage is powered by solid fuel, while the four strap-on motors and the second stage are powered by liquid fuel. The third is the cryogenic engine powered by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.

Another senior official told IANS that the rocket's engines would have to be decontaminated with ionized water and that would take two or three days.

The entire fuel in the rocket's four strap-on motors, second and cryogenic engine had been drained out Tuesday -- other activities are in progress.

According to officials, only after studying the problem and the solution could revised launch time be estimated.

Asked about earlier problems in the second stage of ISRO's lighter rocket polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) (both PSLV/GSLV have identical second stage), the official said: "Rocket engines are complex systems. A small problem might lead to a catastrophic result. It is good that the problem was detected on the ground."

He said if it was a design defect, it would have shown up much earlier, as more than 20 PSLV rockets have been successfully flown by India.

"A pattern could be drawn only if the problem crops up consistently in a component/system," he said.

In 2010, ISRO had to put off a PSLV launch as it found "a marginal drop in the pressure in the second stage of the vehicle during mandatory checks".

At that time, the faulty part was inaccessible as the rocket stages had been fully assembled. ISRO had to dismantle the second stage to correct the fault.

In June 2013, ISRO put off the launch of its PSLV rocket carrying India's first navigational satellite after it found a problem in one of the electro-hydraulic control actuators in the second stage.

Here again, the fully assembled rocket had to be dismantled to replace the actuator, an assembly of several components. The launch occurred successfully July 1 this year.

An expert in rocket technology who retired from ISRO, on condition of anonymity, told IANS that the Indian space agency cannot take any chances with its PSLV rocket as it is also being used for launching foreign satellites.

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