Saturday, December 25, 2010

GSLV-F06 Launch Failure

The GSLV-F06 flight was unsuccessful following an explosion at around T+60 seconds.

The S139 does have a very good record flying on both the PSLV and the GSLV, so it would come somewhat as a surprise if it did cause the failure. The strap-on boosters would be another suspect having previously failed on one of the GSLV flights.

It would be too early to debate the exact cause until there some official response from ISRO into what caused the failure.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

RISAT-1 postponed to 2011

RISAT-1 Tile Source:ISRO

The launch of India's first satellite with an indigenous Synthetic Aperture Radar(SAR), the RISAT-1, has been delayed further to next year. Delays in the fabrication of satellite led to prioritization of RISAT-2, which uses a SAR developed from the Israel Aerospace Industries, launched back in April 2009.

The satellite is supposed to be launched in the first half of 2011 according to the Chairman of ISRO. The Director of the Space Applications Center had previously stated that the satellite would be launched in mid-2011 in an article for the IEEE-GRSS Newsletter. It would used for mapping and managing natural disasters, besides amplifying defence surveillance capabilities.

Further technical parameters and information on the satellite can he found here.


Friday, August 27, 2010

India To Launch GSAT-5P In October

An update on the status of GSLV-F06 from Aviationweek:

BENGALURU, India — The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is gearing up to launch the 2,000-kg. GSAT-5P communication satellite in October using a Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), an ISRO official tells AVIATION WEEK.

“Configured as an exclusive C-band communication satellite, GSAT-5P will carry 12 normal C-band transponders and six extended C-band transponders with wider coverage in uplink and downlink over Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe as well as zonal coverage,” the official says. “The spacecraft has a mission life of 12 years and [is] planned to be launched onboard GSLV-F06.”

The satellite is expected to expand existing telecommunication and television bandwidth. A Russian cryogenic engine will be powering the GSLV-F06; ISRO plans to launch a GSLV with an Indian-made cryogenic engine within a year. Meanwhile, former ISRO chief Madhavan Nair said in Bengaluru Aug. 22 that through combined efforts, India might launch a manned mission to the Moon by 2021.

“There are a lot of mysteries and hypotheses on the origin of the Moon, and probing into these could possibly throw light on the origin of the Earth, Solar System and even the universe,” he says. “Helium-3, emitted from the Sun and found on the Moon, could end the fossil fuel crisis in the future, though we need to do lot of explorations in this field.”

Monday, August 9, 2010

Indian Delegation in Russia

Signing of an agreement on cooperation in space exploration between chairman of ISRO, Dr. K Radhakrishnan and head of ROSCOSMOS, Antony Perminov on August 4th in Moscow.

Friday, July 9, 2010

GSLV-D3 Failure Analysis Report

The GSLV-D3 Failure Analysis Report is out. Posting the report in full:

The third developmental flight of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D3) conducted on April 15, 2010 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota, primarily for the flight testing of indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS), could not accomplish the mission objectives. Consequently, ISRO had instituted a two-tier process to carry out an in-depth analysis of the flight performance, identify the causes of failure and recommend corrective measures.

The Failure Analysis Committee comprising multi-disciplinary experts completed the analysis and its findings were further reviewed by a National Group of Eminent Experts. These reviews have brought out that:

  1. Following a smooth countdown, the lift-off took place at 1627 hrs (IST) as planned. All four liquid strap-on stages (L40), solid core stage (S139), liquid second stage (GS2) functioned normally.

  2. The vehicle performance was normal up to the burn-out of GS-2, that is, 293 seconds from lift-off. Altitude, velocity, flight path angle and acceleration profile closely followed the pre-flight predictions. All onboard real time decision-based events were as expected and as per pre-flight simulations.

  3. The navigation, guidance and control systems using indigenous onboard computer Vikram 1601 as well as the advanced telemetry system functioned flawlessly. The composite payload fairing of 4 metre diameter inducted first time in this flight, also performed as expected. Performance of all other systems like engine gimbal control systems and stage auxiliary systems was normal.

  4. The initial conditions required for the start of the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) were attained as expected and the CUS start sequence got initiated as planned at 294.06 seconds from lift-off.

  5. Ignition of the CUS Main Engine and two Steering Engines have been confirmed as normal, as observed from the vehicle acceleration and different parameters of CUS measured during the flight. Vehicle acceleration was comparable with that of earlier GSLV flights up to 2.2 seconds from start of CUS. However, the thrust build up did not progress as expected due to non-availability of liquid hydrogen (LH2) supply to the thrust chamber of the Main Engine.

  6. The above failure is attributed to the anomalous stopping of Fuel Booster Turbo Pump (FBTP). The start-up of FBTP was normal. It reached a maximum speed of 34,800 rpm and continued to function as predicted after the start of CUS. However, the speed of FBTP started dipping after 0.9 seconds and it stopped within the next 0.6 seconds.

  7. Two plausible scenarios have been identified for the failure of FBTP, namely, (a) gripping at one of the seal location and seizure of rotor and (b) rupture of turbine casing caused probably due to excessive pressure rise and thermal stresses. A series of confirmatory ground tests are planned.

After incorporating necessary corrective measures, the flight testing of Indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage on GSLV is targeted within a year.

In the meantime, the next two GSLVs would fly with the available Russian Cryogenic Stages.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

PICTURES: Indian Space Transportation System - Present Scenario and Future Directions

The presentation titled 'Indian Space Transportation System - Present Scenarion and Future Directions' presented by Dr. B.N.Suresh on 19th June, 2009 at TIFR, Mumbai. Credit:ISRO Click on the slideshow for larger images.

Important Observations:
  • Slide 20 gives us an idea of the Indian interplanetary missions on the drawing board. The slide also gives the orbital and fly-by payload capacities of PSLV, GSLV and GSLV -Mk III to Mars, Venus and Asteroid (very vague definition in this case) respectively. The approximate date for robotic missions to Venus and asteroids is mentioned in Slide 34 as 2018 (Interplanetary missions beyond Mars). The Martian mission according to ISRO will take place only after 2015.
  • Slide 20 mentions the performance specifications of GSLV-Mk III i.e 4.5 tons to GTO and 10 tons to 400 km LEO. In addition it clearly specifies the growth potential to as 5 to 6 tons to GTO, a previously speculated figure. Slide 14 illustrates the flight sequence of Mk III.
  • Slide 25-Slide 28 gives some information of the RLV program. Slide 25 is the image of RLV-TD. Slide 26 shows the RLV with an air-breathing engine. Slides 27 and 28 shows the configuration and flight profile of an RLV-TSTO (Two Stage to Orbit) version.
  • Slides 29-33 has information regarding the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme. The slides give information about the crew vehicle and the human-rated GSLV that would launch it and the mission profile. Slide 33 has already been discussed in detail in an earlier post.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

ISRO Heavy Lift Vehicle

A slide for Dr. B N Suresh's presentation titled 'Indian Space Transportation System: Present Scenario and Future Directions' at TIFR-Mumbai, 19th June 2009 Credit:ISRO

In an earlier post Super Nova had reported on the preliminary concept of an Indian Lunar manned mission presented at IAC-2009. That concept envisaged the development of a crew launch vehicle and a Cargo Launch Vehicle with payload capabilities of 31 and 84 tons respectively to Low Earth Orbit.

The above image shows another concept Heavy Lift Vehicle (HLV) which would be able to haul 100 tons to LEO. What is interesting in this architecture is that no solid stages would be used on the vehicle. 4 SC460 Semi-cryogenic boosters with the SC800 first stage would generate the lift-off thrust for the vehicle. The C100 upper stage would probably serve as an Earth Departure stage (EDS) .

In addition to the HLV, the presentation slide also gives us an idea of the role that the GSLV-Mk III would play in lead up to Lunar manned mission and more importantly in the Indian Human Spaceflight Program.

As we know the present Human Spaceflight concept envisages the development of a crew capsule (Orbital Vehicle) which would be launched by the GSLV-Mk II. This capsule would probably not feature any docking system due to restriction in the payload capacity of GSLV-Mk II (around 5 tons).

Given the greater capability of Mk-III, ISRO plans to use the vehicle to launch a bigger, better equipped crew capsule which would be use to demonstrate rendezvous and docking in addition Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

PSLV variants

Extract from Evolution of Indian launch vehicle technologies published in CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 93, NO. 12, 25 DECEMBER 2007

PSLV was designed in 1980s for inserting 1 ton class of operational remote sensing satellites into Sun synchronous orbit. It was truly a quantum leap for Indian space technology at that time as a follow-on project of the ASLV. PSLV today is among the few launchers with a very high success rates and serves as the work-horse of ISRO.

Different configurations are designed to provide wide variations in payload capabilities ranging from 600 kg in LEO to 1900 kg in SSPO. Core-alone configuration without strap-on motors is designed to launch two satellites of 400 kg each into LEO. A three-stage configuration without strap-on motors and liquid stage will offer lower launch cost of 500 kg class of satellites into LEO.

The most interesting of these variants are the PSLV-HP and PSLV-3S, the most capable and least capable members of the PSLV family if built. The PSLV-HP is supposed to have a a capability of 1900 kg to SSPO. It was designed to launch the IRNSS constellation into orbit but there are doubts over the program following the revelation by ISRO that it was looking into the possibility of GSLV launching the IRNSS. The 3S variant without the PSLV second stage is designed to launch 500 kg payload into a 550 km LEO.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Launch Report: D3 flight Unsuccessful

The GSLV-D3 flight that lifted-off from SDSC at 16:47 IST was unsuccessful. This led the vehicle to lose altitude and splash down into the Bay of Bengal. The exact reason for the failure is ascertained but the ISRO Chairman, Dr. K Radhakrishnan told the press that the problem could have with vernier engines of the upper stage.

The vehicle lifted-off at 16:47 IST and from here there are numerous reports of the vehicle terminating data transmission just after 505 seconds. The flight is said to have progressed normally upto the planned shut-down of S2 (2nd Stage) 293 seconds. Normally the S2 stage shut-downs at T +310 seconds at an altitude of 120 km and is jettisoned 4 seconds later at an altitude of 127 km. This is also when the cryogenic engine ignition takes place. But the parameters of the vehicle is said to have veered-out after T +293 seconds following a failure of the 2 vernier engines used to control the vehicle.

The vehicle is said to have got a velocity of 4.9 km per second as planned and the cryogenic stage ignition command was issued as planned by the on board computer. The terminal velocity (ie at the end third stage shut-down) of the GSLV is 10.2 km/sec at an altitude of 195 km.

The Chairman of ISRO told the press that, ”Indications are that the cryogenic engine got ignited”. But the vehicle started tumbling, due to loss of control, lost altitude and finally splashed down into the sea. This could have been caused by the ignition failure of the two vernier engines. These small thrusters are used for altitude control and adjustments in velocity.

The flight was the maiden one for the new Chairman of ISRO. The Chairman indicated at failure of vernier engines but he said that detailed analysis of the flight data is being carried out to find out the exact reasons for the failure and that corrective measures would be taken for the next test flight, scheduled to take place within a year.

Here is ISRO's official press release on the flight.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

L110 static firing stopped prematurely

ISRO has conducted the static firing of the L110 stage on March 2, 2010. The firing was stopped 150 seconds following a deviation in one of the parameters. Posting the press release in full -

Indian Space Research Organisation conducted the static test of its liquid core stage (L110) of GSLV Mk III launch vehicle, for 150 seconds at its Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) test facility at Mahendragiri at 16:00 hrs yesterday (March 5, 2010).

While the test was originally targeted for 200 seconds it was stopped at 150 seconds since a deviation in one of the parameters was observed. About 500 important parameters were monitored during the static test. The next static test for 200 seconds will be conducted after analysis of this data.

GSLV Mk III launch vehicle is being developed for launching 4 tonne class of satellites in Geo-synchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). Measuring 17 meters in length and 4 meters in diameter, L110 is an earth storable liquid propellant stage with propellant loading of 110 tonnes. L110 stage uses two high-pressure Vikas engines in a clustered configuration and draws its heritage from the second stage of PSLV and GSLV and strapons of GSLV.

While in PSLV and GSLV, the liquid stage with single engine configuration burns for 150 seconds, the GSLV-MkIII requires burning for 200 seconds in a twin engine configuration.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Indian Moon Rockets: First Look

The Preliminary Lunar Manned Mission Concept (Right) showing the launch vehicle architecture. Credit: ISRO

Back in December, Supernova posted the presentation by ISRO at the IAC 2009. A very less known and highly ambitious part of that presentation was the preliminary concept of an Indian Lunar manned mission. The concept in itself is not very detailed but gives us an insight into what ISRO has in store for the future. More importantly, the concept showcases the future UMLV family (Unified Modular Launch Vehicle) being used to loft the crew vehicle. This is the first time that we have had any insight into the possible architecture of the UMLV family, which will be powered by a Common Liquid Core stage in development.

The first thing that strikes when we look at the preliminary lunar concept are the 2 majestic launch vehicles. These launch vehicles, especially the one that launches the Earth Departure Stage (EDS), is a world beyond the capabilities that India possesses today.

ISRO plans to use two rockets for the manned lunar mission. The first will be a crew launch vehicle with the capability to launch 31 tons to Low Earth orbit. This vehicle with a liftoff weight of 1690 tons, would launch the crew module and the service module.

The second rocket will launch the Earth Departing Stage and the Lunar Descent module. This launch vehicle would be a true Super-heavy lifter with a capability to launch 84 tons into Low Earth orbit. The liftoff weight of this beast would 3075 tons.

ISRO has also given some of the technical details about the launch vehicles. The basis for these launch vehicles (as that of the UMLV family) is the new 2ooo kN Semi-cryogenic engine in development. The architecture of the two vehicles would be :

Crew Launch Vehicle
* Architecture - 4 S230 + SC500 + C60
* Capability - 31 tons to Low Earth Orbit
* Payload - Crew Module (6 tons) + Service Module (25 tons)

Carge Launch Vehicle
* Architecture - 8 S230 + SC800 + C60
* Capability - 84 tons to Low Earth Orbit
* Payload - Earth Departure Stage (67 tons) + Lunar Descent Module (17 tons)

The S230 would be solid boosters with 230 tons of propellants, future descendants of the S200 booster developed for the GSLV-Mk III. The SC500 and SC800 stages would be powered by the Semi-cryogenic engine and containing 500 and 800 tons of propellant respectively. The C60 would be the bleeder expander cycle upper cryogenic stage containing 60 tons of propellant.

The modular architecture of the launch vehicles and that of the whole UMLV family would help in reducing the cost of the rockets. The lunar architecture itself seems to be loosely based on the Constellation Program (which is supposed to be axed this year) architecture.

ISRO is pressing ahead with it's preliminary research on Lunar manned mission irrespective of prospective financial issues of such a high budget mission although the the program itself in full isn't expected to be started anytime before 2020.

Will be back with some analysis on the other part of mission ie beyond the launch vehicles.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chandrayaan-2 Program updates

Soft-landing scenario on lunar surface. Copyright: ISRO

Rover deployment from the lander after landing on the lunar surface. Copyright: ISRO

Chandrayaan-2, India's next shot to the moon has come a long way since the project was first conceptualized back in first half of this decade. Although some payloads have already been finalized the process is expected to be fully completed in 2 months time. ISRO has had thousands of payload proposals from different countries on the table, from which it will have to finalize the payloads. Afterall the orbiter can accommodate only 50 kg of scientific payload.

The total weight of Chandrayaan-2 at launch will be 2457 kg, this including the lander and the orbiter. The orbiter and lander will be connected by an inter module adapter. The mass of the orbiter will be 1317 kg, of which 830 kg will be propellant for the orbiter and 487 kg will be the actual dry mass of the orbiter. Of 487 kg dry mass of the orbiter, the actual scientific payloads will weigh 50 kg. Only 10 kg of payload space will be open to international space agencies for their payloads.

Now, for the most exciting part. ISRO has gone ahead with the plant soft-land the rover on the lunar surface. The rover will be inside the rover-module of the lunar lander. As explained above the lander will be connected to the orbiter at launch. The total mass of the lander will be 1100 kg.

Out of the 1100 kg lander, 680 kg will be the propellant used for thrusters on the lunar-lander for soft landing. On the lunar surface the lander will weigh 420 kg including the rover and rover-module. Once the lander has landed on the lunar surface the 2 rovers, one Russian and another India will then emerge from the rover-module onto the surface of the moon.

Many of the scientific instruments on the lander/rover have already been finalized. The rover will drill into the lunar soil and obtain samples for analysis. The Regolith Evolved Gas Analyzer (REGA) and Mass Spectrometer will analyze the composition of Lunar soil. Two instruments, a Tunable Diode Laser and a Laser Induced ion Mass Spectrometer will look for the presence of water in the polar shadowed region of the moon.

Presently, ISRO is on-schedule for a 2013 launch of Chandrayaan-2. Chandrayaan-2 will be the stepping stone for a lots of things that in the future that ISRO already has planned for.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Indian Human Spaceflight Program officially disclosed

The Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization officially disclosed the commencement of the Indian Human Spaceflight Program in Bangalore on January 27th, 2010. Dr. Radhakishanan told the reporters that the much awaited approval by the union cabinet was received and that ISRO planned to conduct the first flight in 2016, revised from the previously announced date of 2015.

The Chairman reiterated that ISRO would require 4 years to design the 'orbital vehicle' and another 3 years for testing and unmanned flights. ISRO is in the process of setting up a new astronaut training facility in Bangalore with the help of the Russian Space Agency. The media were also told that ISRO would shortly finalize 2 candidates as astronauts for the 2016 mission. These 2 astronauts would first travel to space aboard a Soyuz in 2013 to get the required experience for the indigenous manned mission 3 years later.

Monday, January 25, 2010

PICTURES: S200, L110 static firing preparation

S200 segment assembly at the new SRB facility at SHAR. Copyright:ISRO

Employee checking the alingnment of S200 on the test bed. Copyright:ISRO

Thrust frame being mated with the head of the motor. Copyright:ISRO

S200on the test bed. Copyright:The Hindu

L110 being readied for February tests. Copyright:The Hindu

Motor test bed. Copyright:ISRO

S200 successfully tested, L110 next

Here is the ISRO press release in full -

Indian Space Research Organisation successfully conducted the static test of its largest solid booster S200 at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota today (January 24, 2010). The successful test of S200 makes it the third largest solid booster in the world, next to the RSRM solid booster of Space Shuttle and P230 solid booster of ARIANE-5. The S200 solid booster will form the strap-on stage for the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV-Mk III) which is currently under advanced stage of development for launching 4 ton class of communication satellites.

S200 solid booster contains 200 tonnes of solid propellant in three segments. The motor measures 22 meter long and 3.2 meter in diameter. The design, development and successful realisation of S200 solid booster were a pure indigenous effort involving Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram and Satish Shawan Space Centre (SDSC) at Sriharikota with the participation of Indian Industries. The S200 solid booster derived its heritage from the solid boosters developed earlier for the ISRO launch vehicle programme. The preparation and casting of S200 solid booster segments were carried out at the newly established Solid Propellant Plant (SPP) at SDSC, Sriharikota. During the test, the S200 booster was fired for 130 seconds and

generated a peak thrust of about 500 tonnes. The performance of the booster was exactly as predicted. Nearly 600 health parameters were monitored during the test and the initial data indicates normal performance.

Todays successful test of S200 is a major milestone in the solid rocket motor programme of ISRO and a vital step in the development of GSLV Mk III.

Here is the S200 brochure

Monday, January 4, 2010

L110 test to follow S200

L110 cluster engines undergoing testing at LPSC

Full-stage testing of the L110 is to follow the ground firing of S200 later this month. The ground-firing of S200 booster is to take place in the third week of January according to the Chairman of ISRO. This will be followed by the test of the L110 engine in the latter half of January or February at the Liquid Propulsion test facility in Mahendragiri. The Chairman retierated that the first launch of GSLV-Mk III would take place next year.

This test will pave the way for certification of the L110 stage. The L110 is India's first cluster engine stage containing a cluster of 2 Vikas engines similar to those used on the basic GSLV. The cluster engine has already been certified in 2007 and this particular test would be a full-stage test. In many ways, it represents another frontier conquered by the Indian space agency.

The L110 stage generates a thrust of around 1400 kN with a burn time of 240 seconds. The entire stage weighs at 119 tonnes with 9 tins being the empty weight. The stage will ignite 113 seconds after lift-off and burning-out at 312 seconds. The stage is also capable of multiple restarts.

The L110 will in the future be replaced by the common liquid core stage (CLC) powered by the Semi-cryogenic engine under development thus making the GSLV Mk-III more capable and providing a platform to test technologies for the UMLV family.