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ISRO Heaviest Rocket lifts off Tomorrow, May Take Indians to Space Someday

New Delhi: India will on Monday launch communication satellite GSAT-19 using its heaviest rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III (GSLV Mk-III), that weighs equivalent to five fully-loaded Boeing Jumbo Jets or as much as 200 fully grown elephants.

According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle is scheduled to be launched on Monday at 5.28 pm.

(GSLV Mk-III) is India’s rocket of the future as it will undoubtedly be human-rated to carry Indian astronauts likely to be named ‘gaganauts or vyomanauts’.

Former ISRO chairman K Kasturirangan, the man who conceived the GSLV Mk-III, confirms it will be India’s vehicle to ferry Indians into space.

The GSLV Mark-III is intended to launch satellites into geostationary orbit and as a launcher for an Indian crew vehicle. It features an Indian cryogenic third stage and a higher payload capacity than the current GSLV.

On this maiden mission, the GSAT-19 satellite this monster rocket will ferry is in a technological class that has no parallels in the country.

The satellite weighing 3,136 kg is equal to the weight of a single elephant being lofted into space, but this novel satellite promises not to be a ‘white elephant in space’.

At over three tons, the GSAT-19 satellite will the heaviest satellite made and to be launched from India and is a voluminous animal. The satellite is indeed a test bed for many new technologies.

Tapan Misra, director of the Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad, where the GSAT-19 satellite has been designed, calls it “a game changer communications satellite for India”.

GSAT-19 is going to be powered for the first time with indigenously-made Lithium-ion batteries. These batteries have been made so that India’s self-reliance quotient can increase. In addition, similar batteries can then be used to power electric vehicles like cars and buses.

According to ISRO, the GSAT-19 “carries a Geostationary Radiation Spectrometer (GRASP) payload to monitor and study the nature of charged particles and the influence of space radiation on satellites and their electronic components”.

ISRO says GSAT-19 also features certain advanced spacecraft technologies including “miniaturised heat pipe, fibre optic gyro, Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) accelerometer”. These are all important developments being tested so that they become mainstay systems on future missions.

The most innovative development on GSAT-19 is that for the first time there will be no transponders on the satellite.

In fact, the word ‘transponder’ will not be associated with this new bird in the sky, says Misra. Instead for the first time, ISRO is using a whole new way beaming data down using multiple frequency beams and hence it is dubbed “a high through put satellite”.

First Published: June 4, 2017, 11:53 AM IST