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ISRO Ends Difficult Year with Another GSLV Launch Failure

By | December 28, 2010

      [Satellite TODAY Insider 12-28-10] The Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) GSLV-F06 satellite exploded shortly after takeoff on Dec. 25, destroying both the launch vehicle and the GSAT-5P satellite, which was to replace the aging INSAT-2A spacecraft, the agency announced.
          Debris from the rocket, which launched from the Sriharikota rocket launch center, crashed into the Bay of Bengal. ISRO officials said that the rocket was on its proper trajectory for the first 50 seconds, until a blast was detected from its Russian-built cryogenic engine. ISRO had previously postponed the launch to Christmas due to a leak in the engine. Three of ISRO’s six GSLV missions using the Russian cryogenic engine have failed.
          “The GSLV-F06 went up in smoke when a command from its electronic brain to the rocket’s first stage did not go through. This happened because four connectors, which stitch up the wires conveying the signal, ripped open and the wires got snapped,” ISRO Spokesman K. Radhakrishnan said in a statement, adding that the agency has not yet declared an official reason for the failure.
          Indian Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations Adviser to the Prime Minister and ISRO Marketing Director Sridhara Murthi said the lost GSAT-5P satellite was not insured. “Because these satellites were semi-commercial and most of the users of their data were government agencies, Russia charged a fee from ISRO for deploying these remote-sensing satellites. ISRO insured its communication satellites that were put into orbit by a foreign launcher because they were commercial satellites. If you have a launch vehicle that has at least five or six successful launches, then the insurance companies will be ready to insure [the satellite]. Otherwise, the insurance cost will form a significant part of the satellite cost itself,” Murthi said in a statement.
         The recent launch failure ends one of the most difficult years in ISRO’s history. GSAT-5P, developed by ISRO Satellite Center is its second failure this year. The GSLV-D3 rocket carrying the GSAT-4 communications satellite failed in April. That mission also was not insured.
          ISRO’s GSLV-D3 mission aimed to debut an Indian-made cryogenic engine in efforts to expand India’s satellite launch business to about $120 million a year and end the country’s dependence on Russian-built cryogenic engines for lifting heavy payloads. The GSAT-4 satellite carried a multi-beam Ka-band bent pipe and regenerative transponder and navigation payload in multiple bands to guide civil and military aircraft.
          The agency shut down half of the transponders on the Insat-4B communications satellite after it suffered a solar panel power glitch in July. ISRO also lost the $82 million Chandrayaan-1 lunar-orbiting satellite in August.

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