A day after the Agni-III missile failed, the Bay of Bengal became the grave for another ambitious Indian mission: the launch of INSAT-4C.
At 5.38 p.m. on Monday, the Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F02) blasted off with the INSAT-4C satellite from the new launchpad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. A minute later, the vehicle deviated from its flight path. A strap-on motor of the rocket had failed and mission controllers were forced to destroy the vehicle even as it began to break up and fall into the sea.
INSAT-4C, a 2,168-kg communications satellite, was the heaviest in its class and meant to boost direct-to-home telecast. Monday’s was the first launch of an Insat for commercial purposes from an Indian pad.
ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair said one of the four strap-on motors failed to develop pressure to boost the rocket. “The pressure dropped to zero, which led to the launch vehicle deviating from its flight path by more than 10 degrees,” he said. “Since only a deviation up to 4 degrees is acceptable, the safety officer gave the destruct command to safeguard the population in the area.”
He called the failed mission “one of the rarest phenomena”: ISRO’s 12 previous launches had been successful.