'A moment of great happiness'

Print edition : April 28, 2001

Dr. L.N. Kiselev, Director of the Russian cryogenic stage, who played an important role in the success of the GSLV mission, was demonstrably happy when the launch vehicle flawlessly put GSAT in orbit. Kiselev led a team of about 80 Russian cryogenic specialists to Sriharikota and stayed there for several weeks during the integration of the Russian cryogenic stage with the other two stages of the vehicle.

Frontline met Kiselev a couple of hours after the launch. Translated excerpts from his response in Russian to the interview:

How do you assess the performance of the cryogenic stage?

This is a moment of great happiness to me. I don't think you can say this is the cryogenic stage and that there are other stages. It is one big integrated launch vehicle, one unit. This is a very great success for ISRO. I am very happy that we have made a small contribution.

The GSLV weighed 400 tonnes. The cryogenic stage weighed about 17 tonnes together with the payload and the equipment bay. The main objective of the rocket was to take the satellite at a fixed velocity. We (the cryogenic stage) were supposed to give the satellite up to a speed of little more than 10.2 km a second. Out of this velocity, the cryogenic stage was to give more than five km a second. It gives great pleasure that a small cryogenic stage could make such a large contribution. India has joined the club of countries that now have cryogenic technology.

Yet another event took place today (April 18). ISRO was able to independently place the satellite in geo-synchronous orbit. Any country should be proud of this kind of success. After some time, the significance of this event will be more and more clear to the people (of India). Today, it is difficult to describe all that has taken place.

You supplied the cryogenic stage. But ISRO provided the electronics, guidance and control systems for it.

In 1989, we had proposed to take over the fabrication of the entire cryogenic stage and also its electronics aspect. It would have been simpler for us. But ISRO had its own problems. On the one hand, it had to economise on certain things. On the other, ISRO made very good development in electronics. We understood that it had progressed a lot in this direction and agreed that it could it could do it itself.

Although it was difficult for us, particularly to do the tests, we agreed. We got together as a very good team. I am happy that our project concluded with the successful launch of the GSLV. I think this is only the first step and I am convinced that ahead of ISRO lies a clear path because it has good leaders.

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