GSLV fails, erupts into ball of flame

India’s ambitions of entering the market for heavy satellite launches suffered a setback when GSLV-F06, the rocket carrying a 2,130 kg communication satellite, exploded 63 seconds after taking off from Sriharikota, off the Andhra Pradesh coast, at 4.04pm on Saturday.

Indian Space Research Organisation chairman K Radhakrishnan said preliminary findings indicated that ground control at the Satish Dhavan Space Centre here lost control of the rocket when four connectors that conveyed messages from one onboard computer to another snapped 47 seconds after launch.

Radhakrishnan issued the “abort mission” order to destroy the rocket within 16 seconds. The debris fell safely into the Bay of Bengal.

“We will study the flight data in detail and come out with a detailed report within a day or two,” he said. The rocket was carrying the GSAT-5P communications satellite, which was to replace the  INSAT-2E satellite, launched in 1999. GSAT-5P, like INSAT-2E, was a telecommunications and weather forecast satellite.

Now, India will have to hire transponders on foreign satellites – till it launches a replacement for the doomed GSAT-5P – to ensure that these two vital sectors do not suffer “Such failures are part and parcel of space launches. The morale of our scientists remain high,” Radhakrishnan told reporters soon after the crash.

Though India has established itself as a reliable service provider for the launch of light satellites (up to 2 tonnes), it has not been able to replicate this success with heavy satellites.

And Saturday’s failure will further delay ISRO’s ambitions of muscling into this $20-billion (Rs 92,000 crore) a year market on the strength of its lower cost profile. The cost of Saturday’s failed mission (including both the launch vehicle and the satellite) was Rs 325 crore.

NASA, Arianne or any other major satellite launch service provider charge more than double that for a similar launch.

© Copyright 2010 Hindustan Times


It’s GSLV’s third failure in seven missions

Press Trust Of India

Bangalore, December 25, 2010

First Published: 18:49 IST(25/12/2010)

Last Updated: 18:50 IST(25/12/2010)

Saturday’s failure of the GSLV is the third unsuccessful mission of the total seven of this indigenously developed space rocket. On April 15 this year, the third developmental flight of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D3) primarily for the flight testing of indigenously developed

Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) could not accomplish the mission objectives.

Like the GSLV (carrying INSAT-4C on board) which failed on July 10, 2006, Saturday’s rocket was also fitted with the Russian cryogenic engine.

Unlike the April 15 mission when ISRO had faced anxious moments before the launch as it was the first time that the rocket was powered by the indigenous cryogenic engine, today’s mission was considered “routine” and ISRO never expected trouble.

The Failure Analysis Committee comprising multi-disciplinary experts constituted by ISRO to look into the April 15 failure concluded that 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.

This 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.

Two plausible scenarios have been identified for the failure of FBTP: (a) gripping at one of the seal locations and seizure of rotor and (b) rupture of turbine casing caused probably due to excessive pressure rise and thermal stresses.

The Failure Analysis Committee set up by ISRO after the July 10, 2006, unsuccessful mission, had concluded that the primary cause for the failure was the sudden loss of thrust in one out of the four liquid propellant strap-on stages (S4) immediately after lift-off at 0.2 sec. With only three strap-on stages working, there was significant reduction in the control capability.

However, the vehicle altitude could be controlled till about 50 secs. At the same time, the vehicle reached the transonic regime of flight and the vehicle altitude errors built up to large values, resulting in aerodynamic loads exceeding the design limits, thus leading to break-up of the vehicle.

Simulations and analyses of flight data and verification through calibration tests have led to the conclusion that the propellant regulator in the failed engine had much higher discharge coefficient in its closed condition.

The reason for this could be an inadvertent error in manufacturing, which escaped the subsequent inspection, and acceptance test procedures.


Christmas turns sour for ISRO, GSLV mission fails

Arun Ram, TNN, Dec 25, 2010, 04.55pm IST

CHENNAI: Christmas day turned sour for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the nation at large as the launch of India’s latest communication satellite GSAT-5P onboard the homegrown Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F06) failed when the rocket developed a snag soon after lift-off. The rocket was launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, 100 km from Chennai.

This is the second consecutive failure of GSLV, the earlier one being on April 15, 2010.

On Saturday, a little more than two minutes after lifting off, the rocket deviated from its path and exploded mid-air. The monitors showed the rocket plunging, apparently into the Bay of Bengal. While the last launch’s problem was with the cryogenic engine, this time trouble happened soon after the first stage and much before the cryogenic engine was to be fired. Scientists are yet to give an official explanation for the failure.

After the last GSLV (D3), which used the first indigenous cryogenic engine, failed on April 15, 2010, ISRO had decided to use a pre-purchased Russian cryogenic engine for Saturday’s launch. GSLV-F06 was to be launched last Monday, but it had to be postponed after engineers detected a leak in the cryogenic engine which could have proved disastrous. On Saturday, the vehicle blasted off from the Sriharikota spaceport at 4.04pm. It was to inject the 2,300-kg satellite 19 minutes later. The satellite was to be used to boost television broadcast, telemedicine and tele-education. But soon after the first stage separation at 148 seconds, the mission failed.

ISRO has had a troubled past with GSLV, with only two of the seven launches so far claiming total success. Though ISRO claims that four launches had been successful, independent observers call at least two of them either failure or partial success. When it comes to launching its workhorse PSLV, ISRO has had 15 consecutive successes.



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