Deferred Indian rocket launch scheduled for December

Last Updated: Thu, Aug 29, 2013 20:40 hrs

Bangalore/Chennai: The Indian rocket with the indigenous cryogenic engine will be launched Dec 10 after it was called off Aug 19 following a snag, the Indian space research agency said Thursday.

"Based on availability of hardware and components, the geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV-D5) assembly and checkout is expected to be completed by the first week of December and the launch could take place the same month," the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a statement.

In the run-up to the launch, space scientists and technicians will assemble a new liquid second stage in place of the leaked one and replace the 415-tonne rocket's all four liquid strap-on stages with new motors.

"The first stage (solid) and core base shroud are being inspected and the affected elements will be replaced. The satellite assembly, avionics equipment bay and the cryogenic stage of the 49-metre rocket will be preserved," the statement said.

A gas leak observed in the fuel system of the liquid second stage during the last lap of the countdown forced the space agency to call off the launch two hours before the lift off from its Sriharikota spaceport off the Bay of Bengal, about 80 km from Chennai.

The heavier rocket will carry the two-tonne satellite (GSAT-14) with 14 transponders, which will receive and transmit high frequency radio signals (Ku band and extended C band) for communication needs of the country.

"About 750 kg of fuel had leaked, contaminating the launch pad after the rocket was loaded with 210 tonnes of liquid and cryogenic propellants in its second and third stages," the statement noted.

After emptying the fuel, the rocket was moved to its assembly building Aug 26 and de-stacked.

The snag-hit second stage will be taken back to the space agency's liquid propulsion system centre at Mahendragiri in south Tamil Nadu for a thorough check.

A high-level task team has been set up with the spaceport's former director K. Narayana to identify the leak cause and draw an action plan for quick restoration of the mission.

The leak is suspected to be in the lower portion of the propellant tank or the fluid lines between the tank and fuel filling system of the second stage. Detailed investigation is underway, the statement added.

Solid fuel power the rocket's first stage while liquid fuel do it for the four strap-on motors and the second stage. The third is the cryogenic engine powered by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.

"The cryo engine converts liquid hydrogen and oxidiser into gases at super-cool temperatures of 183 degree Celsius and 253 degree Celsius to propel the heavy rocket into outer space to about 36,000 km above earth," a senior space official told IANS.

The space agency's maiden attempt to test its first cryogenic engine April 15, 2010 failed as the rocket crashed within five minutes after its blast-off from the spaceport.

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