GSLV rocket nicknamed naughty boy

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What’s in today’s article?

  •  Why in news?
  • What is Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)?
  • What is GSLV MKIII (now known as Launch Vehicle Mark-III, LVM3)?
  • News Summary: GSLV rocket nicknamed naughty boy
  • Why GSLV was known as naughty boy?
  • What is the challenge associated with GSLV?
  • Indigenous cryogenic technology

Why in news?

  • Recently, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched a new-generation meteorological satellite, INSAT-3DS.
    • INSAT-3DS is meant to carry out enhanced monitoring of the Earth’s surface, atmosphere, oceans and environment.
    • It will boost India’s weather and climate prediction services, early warnings, and disaster management services.
  • But more than the satellite, it was the rocket that was the focus of attention of this launch.
    • The INSAT-3DS satellite rode on the GSLV-F14 rocket to reach its intended geostationary orbit.
  • GSLV has had a rather patchy track record thus far, because of which it has been described as the ‘naughty boy’.

Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)

  • It is a space launch vehicle designed, developed and operated by the ISRO to launch satellites and other space objects into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbits (GTO).
    • A satellite in the GTO, orbits (at an altitude of ~37,000 km) the Earth once per day, keeping the satellite in roughly the same area over the ground.
  • GSLV has the capability to put a heavier payload (up to 5,000 kg up to 37,000 km) in orbit than the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV can carry up to 2000 kg into space up to 600-900 km).
    • PSLV is designed mainly to deliver earth observation or remote sensing satellites, whereas GSLV has been designed for launching communication satellites.
    • GSLV delivers satellites into a higher elliptical orbit - GTO.
  • GSLV is a 3-stage launcher with strap-on motors.
    • The first stage - uses the solid rocket motor with four liquid engine strap-on motors. This stage generates maximum thrust.
    • The second stage uses a liquid rocket engine which is known as Vikas engine.
    • The third stage uses a Cryogenic engine, which uses liquefied oxygen and hydrogen as fuel.
  • GSLV-D5 - launched in 2014 - was the first successful flight of the GSLV using the indigenous cryogenic engine (CE-7.5).

GSLV MKIII (now known as Launch Vehicle Mark-III, LVM3)

  • GSLV MKIII Project was approved in 2002, with a mandate of achieving the capability to launch a 4-ton (4000 kg) class satellite to Geo-Synchronous orbit, by realizing an indigenously developed launch vehicle.
  • GSLV MKIII is configured as a 3-stage vehicle with two solid strap-on motors (S200, among the largest in the world), one liquid core stage and a high thrust Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS).
  • Characteristics of GSLV MKIII:
    • Performance capability of 4.3 ton to GTO
    • Payload capability to support 10 ton to LEO missions
    • Cost effective
    • Improved reliability, operability and redundancy management
    • Future growth potential of payload with minimal design changes
    • To support manned missions (like Gaganyaan mission) of Indian Space Programme
  • The maiden operational flight of GSLV MKIII has successfully launched Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into the Super Geo-Synchronous Transfer Orbit in 2019.

News Summary: GSLV rocket nicknamed naughty boy

Why GSLV was known as naughty boy?

  • GSLV had flown 15 times before the recent launch, and four of these had been unsuccessful, a very high failure rate for any rocket.
    • PSLV, the rocket that ISRO has used the maximum number of times, has failed only twice in its 60 launches.
    • The LVM3 rocket has flown seven times and never failed.
  • GSLV’s most recent failure was in August 2021, when it was attempting to carry an earth observation satellite EOS-03 into space.
  • It did have a successful launch after that, in May last year, but the uncertainty over its performance had not dissipated completely.

What is the challenge associated with GSLV?

  • The problems of GSLV have mainly been with the cryogenic engine that powers the third and final stage of the flight.
    • Cryogenics is the science relating to the behaviour of materials at very low temperatures.
    • Cryogenic engines use liquid hydrogen as the main fuel.
      • Hydrogen, the most efficient rocket fuel, is very difficult to handle in its natural gaseous form, but manageable in liquid state.
    • However, it liquifies only at very low temperatures, nearly 250 degrees Celsius below zero.
    • The oxygen that is needed to burn this fuel also needs to be in liquid form. Oxygen is in liquid state at about 90 degrees Celsius below zero.
  • The GSLV uses a cryogenic engine that is reverse-engineered on a Russian design.
  • It is this reverse-engineered engine, used in the GSLV rockets, that has caused a few headaches for ISRO.

Indigenous cryogenic technology

  • India has managed to develop its own cryogenic engine as well, a result of decades of research and development.
  • This engine has an entirely Indian design, developed within ISRO, and uses a different process to burn the fuel.
  • This indigenously developed cryogenic engine is deployed in Launch Vehicle Mark-III(LVM3).
    • LVM3 is ISRO’s most powerful rocket so far, which carried the Chandrayaan-2 and Chandrayaan-3 missions, among others.
    • LVM3 has had seven flights till now, without any trouble.
  • ISRO scientists have a much better grip on this home-grown technology.

Q1) What is geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO)?

A geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) is a type of geocentric orbit that satellites use as a temporary step to reach their final orbit.

Q2) What is cryogenic engine?

A cryogenic engine is a rocket engine that uses liquefied gasses as fuel and oxidizers. The gasses are stored at very low temperatures, below -150 degrees Celsius.

Source: ISRO’s latest launch: Why is the GSLV rocket nicknamed ‘naughty boy’? | ISRO | ABP Live