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جمعرات، 30 دسمبر، 2010

Rocket failure hits India's prospects in satellite launch market

India's prospects of hard-selling its capability to launch commercial satellites received a setback when one of its heavy rockets exploded on Christmas day due to a puzzling snag in the first stage, space experts opined.
'As it is the second time this year when the geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle crashed, we may have to do a lot of explanation to convince customers in the global satellite launch market about our capabilities as a reliable and cost-effective launcher,' K.R. Sridhara Murthi, former managing director of Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organsiation (ISRO), told IANS here.
Though India has a long way to go in launching heavy satellitesIndian Space Research Organsiation into the higher or geosynchronous orbit, its ability to become a major player in the lower sun-synchronous or polar orbit comes under scanner, as the 418-tonne rocket developed snag in the first stage, which is common to the GSLV and the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV).
Through Rs.1,000-crore Antrix, the state-run Indian space agency launched a total of 25 satellites using PSLV for foreign customers under commercial agreements, demonstrating its multi-satellite capability over the past decade.
India also signed a technology safeguard agreement with the US in July 2009 to launch American satellites and spacecraft fitted with American components on commercial terms from its spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
Initial analysis of the voluminous data pointed to a hardware defect that might have snapped the connectors and prevented the actuator from receiving the signals to control the heavy rocket, leading to its break-up midair and forcing its destruction within a minute of a smooth lift-off from the spaceport at Sriharikota, about 80 km north-east of Chennai.
Coming as it does eight months after the previous rocket (GSLV-D3) crashed April 15 due to a snag in the third stage fitted with the indigenously developed cryogenic engine, the consecutive failure of the heavy launch vehicle Dec 25 has raised questions on the Indian space agency's capability and reliability as a launcher, with its rockets facing teething problems.
Of the seven GSLV launches since April 2001, the second and third flights were fully successful while the maiden one had to be first aborted in March 2001 just before the lift-off as one of the four strap-on booster motors in the first stage did not develop adequate thrust. The fourth mission (GSLV-F02) with Insat-4C failed due to a component defect in one of the strap-on motors and the rocket had to be destroyed as in the case of the latest one (GSLV-F06).
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