India's most powerful rocket the GSLV-MkIII-D1 takes off with GSAT-19 Satellite

CHENNAI: Following a brief lull in space missions due to the failure of the PSLV-C39 rocket, Indian Space Research Organisation is gearing up for an eventful 2018 in which it plans to double the launches from 5 missions in 2017 to between 10 and 12 missions in the next year.

The year 2017 started in grand style in which ISRO created a world record for most number of satellites being launched in a single rocket by putting 104 satellites into orbit on February 15. But the ISRO’s most reliable launch vehicle PSLV had tasted the first failure in two decades on August 31 while launching the navigation satellite IRNSS-1H. It has resulted in the space organisation postponing further missions till finding the cause for the defect and rectifying it.

“We have identified the defect in the PSLV-C39 rocket. Primarily, it was the non-functioning of the vertical jettisoning system. The pressure did not build at the cavity for the separation”, ISRO chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar told Deccan Chronicle.

After rectifying the issue the scientists have conducted simulation tests for the next PSLV rocket. It has also resulted in design improvement of the vehicle. “The next version is ready and we are going ahead with the launch. PSLV-C40 rocket would be launched in the first half of the January 2018. The date will be finalised soon,” he said. The rocket will carry Cartosat-2 series satellite and 30 nano-satellites into the orbit. 

ISRO had only five launches in the current year and it is targeting between 10 and 12 launches next year “We are targeting 10 to 12 launches next year. The communication satellite GSAT-6A and Chandrayaan-2 mission will be launched by GSLV-Mk-II rockets. The second mission of GSLV-Mk-III rocket with a communication satellite and the launch of navigation satellite also will take place next year”, Kiran Kumar explained.

The much-awaited Chandrayaan-2 mission could be launched in the second quarter of 2018. “The moon lander is ready for the mission and undergoing tests. The flight hardware is getting assembled and going through tests. We are targeting the second quarter of the next year for the launch”, the top scientist said.

“We had an eventful year in 2017 and 2018 also will equally be eventful with series of launches planned for the next year”, said K. Sivan, director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram. “ISRO has launched 104 satellites in a single rocket and the launched South Asian Satellite, the heaviest rocket GSLV-Mk III and 3,136-kg GSAT-19 satellite from the Indian soil”, he added.

The scientists have also tested several new technologies including electric propulsion system, multiple restarts of the fourth stage which can increase the weight of the payloads.