The Indian Space Research Organisation(Isro) will test-fly its heaviest rocket GSLV-Mk III on December 18 at around 9.30 am from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
This comes less than three months after Isro successfully launched Mangalyaan – a spacecraft orbiting Mars – catapulting India to the elite league of nations who have successfully sent missions to the red planet.
GSLV Mk III is conceived and designed to make India fully self reliant in launching heavier communication satellites of INSAT-4 class, which weigh 4500 to 5000 kg. It would also enhance the capability of the country to be a competitive player in the multimillion dollar commercial launch market.
“It is an experimental mission of GSLV MkIII towards launching heavier satellites,’ Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan told HT.
It is designed to be a three stage vehicle, with 42.4 m tall with a lift off weight of 630 tonnes.
“This is a suborbital flight, carrying a crew module which will go up to a height of 120 km and then descend,”
Space Application Center director Dr Kiran Kumar said: "There will be a crew module as a dummy payload and cryogenic engine for weight simulation. The experimental flight with the crew module in a spacecraft will test whether its heat shield can survive very high temperatures during its re-entry into the atmosphere.”
The MkIII will also test the recovery of a dummy crew module from sea. The success of the module will be the core for a future Human Space Project.
“Safety and reliability are of paramount importance for any human spaceflight. These were done as part of the pre-project activities during the recent years, using synergy of several national institutions and Isro,” Radhakrishnan said.
A few years back Isro had carried out a similar experiment on a smaller scale in which the module had orbited around the earth for 15 days before entering back.
The crew module will, however, not encounter the same level of friction as that in the final encounter.