India’s third attempt to enter an exclusive space club suffered a setback on Monday when the launch of the GSLV D5 rocket was called off practically at the last minute, after a fuel leak was detected.
The rocket, carrying the GSAT 14 communications satellite, was powered by an indigenous cryogenic engine.
The cancellation was prudent, considering the last attempt to launch the rocket had ended in disaster. In December 2010, a GSLV with a Russian engine had exploded 63 seconds after the blast-off. Another effort in April that year, with an indigenous cryogenic engine, had failed as well.
The countdown was stopped all of a sudden, an hour and 14 minutes before the launch, scheduled for 4.50 pm. “A few minutes ago, we detected leaks in the in-fuel system of stage two. Because of this, we are calling of this launch,” said ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan.
A new date will be announced after the damage by the leak has been assessed.
Skyfall: past failures:
# GSLV D1 April 2001: Fails to put GSAT 1 in orbit
# GSLV F02 July 2006 : Rocket with Insat 19 disintegrates 55 seconds into flight and crashes into sea
# GSLV D3 April 2010 : Cryogenic engine fails, splashes into sea
# GSLV F06 Dec 2010 : Cryogenic rocket goes up in flames within 63 seconds of launch