ISRO Hails Successful First Flight of GSLV Mark III Rocket

GSLV Mark III inaugural flight test. (Credit: ISRO)
GSLV Mark III inaugural flight test. (Credit: ISRO)

SRIHARIKOTA, India (ISRO PR) — The first experimental flight (GSLV Mk-III X/CARE) of India’s next generation launch vehicle GSLV Mk-III was successfully conducted today (December 18, 2014) morning from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. Also known as LVM3-X/CARE, this suborbital experimental mission was intended to test the vehicle performance during the critical atmospheric phase of its flight and thus carried a passive (non-functional) cryogenic upper stage.

The mission began with the launch of GSLV Mk-III at 9:30 am IST from the Second Launch Pad as scheduled and about five and a half minutes later, carried its payload – the 3775 kg Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) – to the intended height of 126 km. Following this, CARE separated from the upper stage of GSLV Mk-III and re-entered the atmosphere and safely landed over Bay of Bengal with the help of its parachutes about 20 minutes 43 seconds after lift-off.

Two massive S-200 solid strap-on boosters, each carrying 207 tons of solid propellants, ignited at vehicle lift-off and after functioning normally, separated 153.5 seconds later. L110 liquid stage ignited 120 seconds after lift-off, while S200s were still functioning, and carried forward for the next 204.6 seconds.

CARE floats on ocean. (Credit: ISRO)
CARE floats on ocean. (Credit: ISRO)

CARE separated from the passive C25 cryogenic upper stage of GSLV Mk-III 330.8 seconds after lift-off and began its guided descent for atmospheric re-entry.

After the successful re-entry phase, CARE module’s parachutes opened, following which it gently landed over Andaman Sea about 1600 km from Sriharikota, there by successfully concluding the GSLV Mk-III X/CARE mission.

With today’s successful GSLV Mk-III X / CARE mission, the vehicle has moved a step closer to its first developmental flight with the functional C25 cryogenic upper stage.

  • JimNobles

    India may have an operational manned vehicle soon. Maybe before SpaceX or Boeing? Likely before NASA’s Orion.

  • Aerospike

    This demonstration flight didn’t even test the heat shield properly. Re-entering from a ~100 kilometer sub-orbital trajectory will heat your craft enough that you can’t ignore it (see “feathering on SpaceShip 1/2), but nowhere near as much as from orbital velocity.

    In other words: there is no way that India will have an operational manned spacecraft before SpaceX and Boeing.

  • Hug Doug

    definitely not before SpaceX / Boeing (both should be operational by 2017), and doubtful even before Orion is launched with people in 2021 (ish).

    the earliest possibility for a manned launch by the ISRO is 2021, and i’d expect that date to slip by a few years. there isn’t even a launch vehicle for it yet.

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    ISRO are saying earliest date for crewed flight is 7 years; so not before 2022.

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    Interesting design to that Indian service tower.

  • Rocketplumber
  • Sam Moore

    This vehicle only has a dummy third stage, and couldn’t put anything in orbit. Developments flights of the full vehicle aren’t to start until 2017.

  • Douglas Messier

    I’d add a couple of years to that just based on previous Indian schedules. The budget doesn’t allow them to do very much back to back. Launch GSLV rocket, wait a couple of years, launch another one. Same thing with their planetary probes. The only thing they really do on a regular basis is to launch the smaller PSLV rocket.

  • Jeff Smith

    Congrats guys. The flight looked good!

  • windbourne

    Congrats India.
    Things are looking good.

  • Andrew B

    They did get a successful parachute test though, which took Orion several aircraft drop tests to get to work.

  • therealdmt

    I wonder if that design was intentional. I’d say definitely yes, but it could perhaps be subconscious/cultural. Also, I don’t think any US launch towers were built with aesthetics in mind. Anyway, it looks cool, and very Indian.

  • therealdmt

    Contrast it to Russia’s intimidating construction (see attached image):