A hectic schedule

Print edition : June 05, 1999

IN the coming months the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will have a hectic schedule, with several launches slated from Sriharikota (SHAR) in Andhra Pradesh and from Kourou in French Guyana. The centrepiece of these will be the launch of the co lossal Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), which will inject into orbit the 2,500-kg Geostationary Satellite (GSAT). The GSLV is expected to be launched either by the year-end or in early 2000. The first GSLVs will use cryogenic stages import ed from Russia to inject GSATs into the geostationary transfer orbit at a height of 36,000 km. The subsequent ones will be powered by indigenous cryogenic stages. The GSATs will be fabricated by the ISRO Satellite Centre in Bangalore.

The GSLV stands 51 metres tall and weighs 402 tonnes (this includes the weight of solid propellants and the cryogenic propellants) as compared to the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), which is 44 metres tall and weighs 292 tonnes. The GSLV is a thre e-stage vehicle.

According to Dr. S. Vasantha, Director of SHAR, the gigantic Mobile Service Tower (MST), where the PSLVs are assembled vertically, is being modified to assemble the GSLV. A second launch pad will be built at SHAR to accommodate the advanced versions of G SLVs.

The awesome, four-stage PSLV-C2, which weighs 294 tonnes and is 44 metres tall.-S. MAHINSHA

Dr. K. Kasturirangan, ISRO Chairman, said that the Union Government had approved the proposal to establish a second launch pad at a cost of Rs.280 crores. The organisation that will build the launch pad has been given 30 months to complete it.

The indigenously built third generation communications satellite, INSAT-3B, will be launched by Ariane-4 of Arianespace from Kourou in the third or fourth quarter of this year. This will be followed by the launch of INSAT-3A, a communication-cum-meteorol ogical spacecraft, from the same launch pad.

A PSLV will lift off from SHAR either in 2000 or in early 2001 to inject into orbit Cartosat, a remote-sensing satellite which will help in the making of maps. The Belgian satellite, Proba, will be its co-passenger.

A giant leap has been made by ISRO in rocketry. The first indigenous rocket launched in the 1960s from Thumba, near Thiruvananthapuram, was the size of a pencil, and had 250 grams of propellants. An abandoned church was the "block house", or the mission control centre, then. Today, SHAR boasts of sophisticated mission and launch control centres.

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