GSLV-D5 Preparations On!

The GSLV D5 is scheduled for launch on January 5, 2013 at around 1618 hrs. (IST). Preparations are afoot at the Vehicle Assembly Building where each of the stage of the rocket is being assembled to form the GSLV.  A Mission Readiness Review on December 27 will confirm the time and date of launch, as per reports.

Integrating the indigenous cryogenic stage to the GSLV. Image Credit: ISRO

The most challenging part of this mission is the indigenous cryogenic stage. The 8 page brochure includes one whole page for the various design improvements that ISRO has undertaken for this mission. The changes have been made in the fuel booster turbo pump of the cryogenic engine that was believed to be the cause of the failure of the GSLV D3 in April 2010. Improvements have also been made to the aerodynamics of the launch vehicle and the wire tunnel that runs from the payload bay right down to the first stage. These were believed to be the cause of the failure of the GSLV-D4 which was destroyed by range officer after the vehicle veered out of control. ISRO has also instituted more tests than it had generally carried out for launch vehicle missions, which it prefers to do in-situ during missions.

An interesting addition to this mission is a video imaging system to keep watch of the lower shroud movement. It was this shroud that is suspected to be the culprit in snapping of the control wires that led to the failure of the GSLV-D4 mission. The Russians were blamed for this. It will be interesting to learn of lessons learnt from this mission.

They have also changed and are using a newer stage for this mission. As the countdown clock was running for the same mission on August 19, the second stage had popped a leak. A review found that the older tank used for the stage had cracked due to ageing. I can imagine many tanks wasting away without use as the GSLV launches keep getting delayed.

The development and success of the GSLV is critical for India. Several of its space missions have been scaled down due to the lack of reliability of this vehicle system. This along with the Mk-III are critical for self sufficiency in launching our geostationary satellites, future interplanetary missions and even the human space-flight programme. I wish good luck to the GSLV team.

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