8 January 2014

India’s big space stride

Jan 06, 2014

Three cheers to Indian scientists for the successful placing of the two-tonne advanced communications satellite GSAT 14 in space in a launch perfectly synchronised off GSLV D5 from the first domestically-powered cryogenic rocket.

The breakthrough indigenous cryogenic booster launch sends out a strong message that India has joined an elite group of nations, like US, Russia, France, Japan and China, while becoming capable of handling launches featuring heavy payloads. Beyond that, the achievement of self-reliance in space technology when the world has tried to deny India such know-how for commercial as well as strategic reasons is indubitably the finest aspect of Sunday’s success.
Proving the veracity of the dictum that failures are stepping stones to success, Indian scientists overcame the loss of a satellite in a crash into the Bay of Bengal in 2010 and an aborted launch in August 2013 because of a fuel leak. What the launch and the placement of a satellite in geo-synchronous orbit at a phenomenal height of 36,000 km above the Earth means India has really arrived. A Mars orbiter was launched just last November. These are heady times indeed for Indian space science.

A string of successes with PSLV launches over the years represented scientific and commercial success. But had the GSLV capability existed before the Mars mission, India could have placed an even heavier payload on the rover to facilitate more complex scientific studies. The economical rates of the execution of Indian rocket science means India can be a major player in putting heavy communications satellites in orbit besides giving an edge to our defence preparedness.

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