Monday, 18 April 2011

Indian cryogenic engine failure will kill Indian space program


Indian space mission specifically the manned mission is on a cross-road. One road leads to glory and success and the other leads to abject failure and humiliation.This is due to the failure of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to develop cryogenic engine required for putting heavy satellites into orbit.
On April 15, 2010 a Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D3) with GSAT-4, a heavy satellite on board, crashed into the sea within minutes after lifting off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikotta due to the malfunctioning of the cryogenic engine developed by ISRO.
Kerala-born K Radhakrsihnan, chairman of had said on that black Vishu (Malayalees’ new year) that ISRO would launch another GSLV mission with an indigenously developed cryogenic engine within one year. But top ISRO scientists feel this may not materialize soon.
“It is not that easy to develop a cryogenic engine which uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen as fuel and oxidizer. 17 years of research work into it has proved that we do not have the right kind of people,” a senior ISRO scientist said.Only cryogenic engines can power the launch vehicles required to put heavy communication satellites into orbits at a height of 36,000 km from the earth.
Though the country had launched seven GSLV missions so far, five of them were failures. All but one had cryogenic engines bought from Russia. The last GSLV launched in December 25, 2010 too failed throwing the country’s space programme in disarray. “A fear psychosis prevails among the entire ISRO establishment because of two consecutive failures,” another scientist said.
Australia-born Morris Jones, an international space analyst, expressed apprehensions over these frequent failures.
“The failure rates are far too high when compared to other nations. India has a mature space programme and should have more reliability than this,” Jones told DNA. He also doubted the possibilities of GSLV getting Man Rated for the scheduled manned space mission. Man Rating is the process of certifying a rocket as fit for carrying astronauts.
The failures of the GSLV missions have unnerved the country’s space managers. This resulted in the twice postponement of the launch of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-D16 ) mission which was to put into orbit the Resourcesat-2.