India’s second Moon mission Chandrayaan-2, slated for 2014, will have to wait till the country’s space agency flies two of its heavy rocket – Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) – successfully, a top official said Thursday.
Speaking to reporters after the successful launch of indigenously built Radar Imaging Satellite I (Risat-1) from here, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K. Radhakrishnan said: ‘We plan to fly two GSLV rockets at an interval of six months before the Chandrayaan-2 mission.’
India’s first unmanned moon mission, Chandrayaan-1, was launched in 2008. The country has planned its second moon mission along with Russia.
The one major concern for ISRO now is getting ready the GSLV rocket which failed successively in 2010, thereby setting back many of the space agency’s plans.
According to Radhakrishnan, the space agency is in the process of getting its cryogenic engine ready to power the GSLV.
The one GSLV rocket fitted with an ISRO made cryogenic engine failed in 2010 due to the failure of an engine component. He said two major ground tests of the cryogenic engine are being done.
‘We are planning a GSLV launch with Indian cryogenic engine during September/October 2012,’ Radhakrishnan remarked.
He said the space agency will revert to a smaller heat shield (3.4 metre) for the rocket as against the four-metre heat shield fitted in the GSLV rocket that failed in 2010.
The Russians had earlier pointed out that the bigger heat shield was the probable reason for the GSLV’s instability during its flight in December 2010.
Speaking about the status of GSLV Mark III, the upgraded variant of GSLV, Radhakrishnan said the rocket would have high power cryogenic engine. The engine’s various subsystems also have to be tested, which would take a couple of years.
He said an experimental flight of GSLV Mark III without the cryogenic engine is planned during 2012-13 to test the rocket’s other parameters.
Refuting the charge that ISRO was not fully utilizing the funds allocated to it, Radhakrishnan said the agency had spent Rs.20,000 crore during the Eleventh Plan period as against Rs.13,000 crore spent during the previous plan period.
But he agreed that ISRO had not utilized the amount it got last fiscal in full.
‘A large portion the money remaining unspent was drawn for the purchase of around six to eight cryogenic engines from Russia after failure of the indigenously built cryogenic engine during a flight,’ Radhakrishnan said.
On cost of Risat-1 mission, he said the rocket (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) and the satellite cost Rs.110 crore and Rs.378 crore respectively.
He said Indian users can now use Risat-1′s images instead of sourcing these from Canada.