January 5, 2014 will go down in the annals of Indian space exploration as a red-letter day, as it was on this day that India broke into an elite club of nations that boast of indigenous cryogenic engine technology.
The last time Indian Space Research Organisation ventured to test its home-grown cryogenic engine technology, it met with a terrible disaster. On April 15, 2010, the GSLV D3 rocket, carrying the experimental satellite GSAT-4 failed to reach orbit when it suffered a stage-3 engine malfunction. The rocket went out of control and came careening back to the earth’s surface. The third stage of the launch was supposed to be India’s first ever successful cryogenic-fuelled upper stage. The same year ISRO lost another rocket in a similar mission.
After these monumental setbacks which resulted in a huge loss of money, prestige and morale, the Indian Space Research Organisation had to pull itself up by its bootstraps.
But after four years of hard work and perseverance, on Sunday, 5th January 2014, at 4:18 pm, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle – Development 5 (GSLV-D5), carrying the Indian Communications satellite, GSAT-14 was successfully launched into the orbit from the Satish Dhavan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
The only other nations that possess an indigenous cryogenic engine technology are US, Russia, Japan, China and France.
An indigenous cryogenic engine will reduce India’s dependence on other space agencies and is believed to have the potential to save millions of dollars for ISRO in launching heavier communication satellites. ISRO pays for the technology and services of other space agencies in launching heavier satellites, which makes the whole operation very expensive. Finally, when GSLV Mark III, a more advanced version of GSLV, is developed, ISRO will be in a position launch heavier satellites without the aid of foreign technology.
The successful launch of GSLV-D5 is indeed a momentous achievement for ISRO and will pave the way for further progress in the sphere of space research and exploration.