India is all ready to launch its heavy geostationary communication satellite on April 15 using the indigenously built cryogenic engine and thus join the elite space club of five advanced countries, a top space scientist said on Wednesday.
"In the world only five countries have the cryogenic engine upper stage technology to launch heavier satellites in the geostationary orbits. India is the sixth country to design and develop the technology on its own," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K. Radhakrishnan told reporters in Bangalore.
The five advanced countries are the US, Russia, France, Japan and China.
When the US prevented Russia from transferring the cryogenic technology to India in 1992, ISRO embarked on a mission to design and develop the engine on its own.
"Technology denial has made us take up the challenge to develop our own cryogenic engine for launching heavier satellites in the higher orbits, about 36,000 km from the earth," Radhakrishnan recalled.
The efficient cryogenic rocket stage provides more thrust for every kilogram of propellant (fuel) it burns compared to solid and earth-storable liquid propellant stages. In the engine, oxygen liquefies at -183 degrees centigrade and hydrogen at -253 degrees centigrade.
India, however, imported seven cryogenic engines from Russia but used five of them to launch heavy satellites (above two-tonne class) in GSLV-Mark I and Mark-II rockets in the last decade.
The indigenous cryogenic engine will be flight tested for the first time in the upper stage of the third geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSVL-3), carrying the geostationary experimental satellite (GSAT-4) from the ISRO spaceport at Shriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
"The lift-off is scheduled April 15 at 16:27 IST. The rocket with the GSAT-4 satellite has been moved to the second launch pad earlier in the day. The formal countdown for the launch will begin 29 hours before April 14," Radhakrishnan said.
The 2.2-tonne GSAT-4 will have one Ka-band regenerative transponder and a navigation payload will operate in C-band and L1 and L5 bands for global positioning system aided geo-augmented navigation (Gagan).