There was palpable excitement among the scientists of an Indian space agency centre here in Kerala as they watched live on screens the launch of GSLV D3 with indigenously built cryogenic engine on Thursday. But the mood turned to gloom within minutes as the rocket deviated from its path and the mission failed.
A senior official of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) said more than 600 scientists watched as GSLV D3 blasted off with a GSAT 4 satellite around 5 p.m. from Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh.
“Tension was mounting and it was joy when the rocket blasted off. But soon things became gloomy,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
“This failure has happened after a long time, and obviously the mood is sombre. It was dejection all-round,” he said.
At the Indian Space Research Organisation centre at Valiyamala, on the city’s suburbs, where the cryogenic upper stage project took shape from the design stage to the assembly, the scientists were crestfallen.
“Yes, we have come to know that there the scientists are sad because of the efforts that they had put into building the engine. But then it is failures like these that has helped us to emerge stronger. We are certain that we will put this failure behind,” the official said.
ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishan, who was at the launch site at Sriharikota, said the mission did not perform as planned as two Verinier cryogenic engines failed to ignite though the main engine lifted off.
“The vehicle started tumbling and started losing altitude, because two engines would not have ignited,” he said.
A successful launch would have propelled India into an elite club of five countries - the US, France, Japan, Russia and China - to have successfully developed their own cryogenic engines.