- Rocket with the semicryogenic stage won’t be used for the Gaganyaan mission
- Current GSLV Mk III with L110 stage will only be used for the manned mission with some modifications
- Advantage of using kerolox is that it is 10 times dense — meaning the same volume of kerolox will generate more thrust than the same volume of hydrolox
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is working on upgrading its heavylifter GSLV Mk III where the upper stage of the rocket will have highly refined form of kerosene as fuel in order to increase its payload capability. Talking to TOI, ISRO chairman Dr K Sivan said, “To increase the payload capability of GSLV Mk III from 4 tonnes to 6 tonnes, we are in the process of making some improvements in rocket stages. First, we are working on enhancing the cryogenic stage fuel loading from 25 tonnes to 30 tonnes. Second, we are also working on changing the core stage L110 — which has 110 tonnes of unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) and dinitrogen tetroxide (N2O4). We want to replace L110 stage with semicryogenic engine that will carry liquefied oxygen and highly refined kerosene called kerolox (aka RP-1) instead of liquefied hydrogen.” Dr Sivan said, “The first test of the advanced version of Mk III will take place in December 2020. With upgrade in Mk III, we will also have to upgrade the launchpad facility at Sriharikota. We have therefore issued a tender notice recently inviting quotations for infrastructure upgrades at the second launchpad.” However, the chairman clarified the rocket with the semicryogenic stage won’t be used for the Gaganyaan mission. The current GSLV Mk III with L110 stage will only be used for the manned mission with some modifications. The advantage of using kerolox is that it is 10 times dense — meaning the same volume of kerolox will generate more thrust than the same volume of hydrolox. It is also cheaper, more stable at room temperature and less hazardous than hydrolox. Mr Elon Musk-promoted Space X currently uses kerolox in its Falcon 9 rocket for launching heavy payloads. “With increase in payload capacity, the advanced GSLV MK III will help ISRO cut expenses and save time,” Dr Sivan said. Currently, India uses the services of Arianespace to launch its heavy satellites weighing over 4 tonnes. Last year on December 4, ISRO had used the services of Arianespace for launching its heaviest satellite Gsat-11 weighing over 5.7 tonnes from French Guiana.
ISRO tastes first success of 2019, places military satellite Microsat-R in orbit
Under a starry night and a waning gibbous moon, ISRO’s PSLV C-44 broke the silence over a brimming Pulicat lake as it lifted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, to successfully place in orbit military satellite Microsat-R. The mission, with a modified PSLV with just dual strap-on motors (PSLV-DL), marked another first for ISRO – it provided an alternative to its normal six strap-on motors. This will enable the rocket to carry slightly higher payloads than its Core-Alone version. Towards the end of the first stage, the rocket’s plumes were white with its tail end burning bright red even as a large flock of birds passed on the horizon. A second later, as the rocket soared further into the night sky, the second stage ignition burned a bright orange propelling the rocket ahead.
In low orbit
Microsat-R was placed in orbit 13 and-a-half minutes after lift-off. It is the first time an Indian satellite was being placed by ISRO in a low orbit at an altitude of 274 km. ISRO also used this launch as an opportunity to demonstrate the usability of the fourth stage of the rocket after the satellites are ejected into orbit. The fourth stage used to just become yet another piece of space debris. However, ISRO has found a way to make use of this stage with student satellite Kalamsat, made by Space Kidz India, weighing just 1.26kg, attached to it. “The first mission of 2019 is a grand success,” ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said from Mission Control. “Another innovation is making the fourth stage an experimental platform to do technology demonstrations and carrying out science experiments by students,” he said.
This would enable any agency that wants to conducts experiments in space to use the fourth stage till it disintegrates naturally. The fourth stage may be orbiting in space for six months to a year. ISRO is aiming to use this time-frame to enable agencies to run short time experiments. Dr. Sivan asked students in India to develop such satellites and ISRO would take care of the launches. He also said ISRO was developing a Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), smaller than the PSLV. The first SSLV launch would take place this year, he added.