ISRO Successfully Launches GSLV With Cryogenic Upper Stage

A GSLV-II rocket lifts off with the GSAT-14 spacecraft and a domestically-produced cryogenic upper stage. (Credit: ISRO)
A GSLV-II rocket lifts off with the GSAT-14 spacecraft and a domestically-produced cryogenic upper stage. (Credit: ISRO)

The Indian space agency ISRO is celebrating today after a GSLV-II rocket launch that featured the first successful demonstration of the nation’s new cryogenic upper stage.

After the rocket lifted off from Isro’s spaceport at Sriharikota and successfully deployed the GSAT-14 communications satellite 17 minutes later, officials were able to declare success in what has been a nearly 20-year effort to develop the advanced propulsion technology.

Following the successful flight,  sounded like a man released from a prison of high expectations and dismal results.

“With this successful launch, we have repaid all our debt to the country,” said ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan, sounding like a man finally released from prison. “Team Isro has done it. Indian engine and stage have performed as predicted and as expected for this mission. The injection was precious as planned. It is a major achievement for GSLV programme. Today was an important day for science technology and space technology in India. It is 20 years of effort, especially the last 3.5 years, today’s successful launch shows the maturity of us. I thank and salute everyone”.

It was the first GSLV launch since dual failures more than three years ago.  On April 15, 2010, a launch attempt failed after the first cryogenic upper stage failed to fire. Eight months later on Christmas Day, another rocket equipped with a Russian cyrogenic stage was destroyed by the range safety officer after it veered off course early in the flight.

The new stage will allow ISRO to send larger payloads into space, lessening the nation’s dependence on foreign launch vehicles for certain spacecraft. The space agency also has nearly exhausted its supply of seven cryogenic upper stages it purchased from Russia.

The successful launch raises the record of the GSLV family of rockets to 3-4-1. Radhakrishnan said another launch of the rocket is planned for the end of the year. He added that India will soon begin flight testing of the advanced GSLV-III, which is based on different technology.