After the successful launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission in November, ISRO scientists are gearing up for another important launch on January 5. The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) D5, featuring an indigenous cryogenic stage in its engine, is set for launch at 4.18 pm next Sunday. A successful launch of the GSLV has eluded ISRO since 2010 with two attempts, one of them featuring an Indian-made cryogenic stage, ending in failure. Since then, ISRO has worked to perfect the launch vehicle and tested it extensively. However, in August this year, another launch had to be called off at the last minute as a massive fuel leak was detected. If successful, the launch will be an important step in India’s march towards self-reliance in the launch of heavy satellites. Currently, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) which is the space agency’s workhorse has a capacity to launch 1,060 kg satellites into a geosynchronous transfer orbit. A mission review on Friday cleared the launch of the GLSV D5, which will put a communications satellite, GSAT 14, into orbit. The GSAT 14 weighs 1,982 kg. A 29 hour countdown to launch will begin at 11 am on January 4, ISRO said. Scientists are taking no chances with the rocket this time around and after numerous tests during the integration stage, the satellite and launch vehicle were moved to the launch pad on Sunday. ISRO is hoping that the GSLV platform can be used in future missions like the Chandrayaan II, a future Mars mission and also a manned space flight.
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