The successful launch of Indian Space Research Organisation’s communication satellite from the heaviest launch vehicle GSLV Mark III comes as a major boost to the proposed manned mission to the moon. GSLV Mark III, the most advanced and powerful rocket, will now be a part of Isro’s fleet of operational vehicles, which includes the highly successful Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). This will be used for India’s human spaceflight programme scheduled for 2022 and Chandrayaan-2 in January 2019. The launch vehicle, with its 4 tonnes of carrying capacity, carried the 3.4 tonnes communication satellite, the heaviest in India’s history, to the Geo-Transfer Orbit (GTO). The development marks a major milestone in the country’s space programme and demonstrates its mastery over cryogenic technology. It also signifies breaking a key barrier in the journey towards achieving self-reliance in launching heavier satellites. Once in the Geostationary Orbit (GSO), GSAT 29 satellite will provide advanced connectivity to a large population of India, especially to the ones in the geographically inaccessible areas like Jammu & Kashmir and Northeast. The multiband and multibeam communication satellite also features a geo high-resolution camera, which can be used to track enemy ships. The GSLV Mark III is truly the ‘Baahubali’ among the launch vehicles and it has double the carrying capacity of its predecessor, GSLV Mark II. The latest satellite, blasted off from Sriharikota, carries important payloads in Ka and Ku band to help the communication needs in the remote places under the ‘Digital India’ programme.
The GSLV Mark III is powered by an indigenously developed cryogenic engine, which uses oxygen and hydrogen as propellants in liquid form to fire the heaviest rocket. Significantly, several components and systems for the rocket, including propellants, have been developed and supplied by both big and small and medium enterprises closely associated with the country’s space journey. India has now joined the elite club of space-faring nations that have mastered cryogenic technology. The capability for carrying larger payloads has become crucial because communication satellites are becoming heavier by the day. In the past, export controls on strategic technologies were used to prevent India from developing missile or nuclear technology for decades. Now, the equations have changed and India is on the other side of the table. The operationalisation of Mark-III will not only make India self-reliant in launching heavier satellites but also help expand the business by offering the launch services to other countries at a competitive cost. The manned mission to space will be a natural progression from here. Once India establishes its capability to launch human space missions, it will boost the country’s position among the space-faring nations and open up new vistas to tap scientific benefits.