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ISRO’s maiden SSLV mission Fails, satellites no longer usable

Questions raised on failure of ISRO’s new rocket

SRIHARIKOTA:   The placing of two satellites in a wrong orbit, resulting in their total loss, by the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) brand new rocket Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) on Sunday has raised several questions.

The about Rs 56 crore SSLV rocket with a capacity to carry satellites weighing 500kg or less is meant for commercial as well as for country’s strategic needs, a space sector expert, not wanting to be identified, told IANS.

The Sunday space mission failure also puts the focus on the safety of India’s human space mission that will be carried out by Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mk III (GSLV-Mk III) with the tricky cryogenic engine stage.

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On the mission failure, ISRO Chairman S. Somanath said: “SSLV-D1 placed the satellites into 356 km x 76 km elliptical orbit instead of 356 km circular orbit. The 76 km is the lowest point close to the surface of the earth.”

He said when the satellites are placed in such an orbit, they will not stay there for long and will come down. “The two satellites have already come down from that orbit and they are no longer usable,” Somanath said.

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According to the ISRO, “failure of logic to identify a sensor failure and go for salvage action caused the deviation. A committee would analyse and recommend. With the implementation of the recommendations, ISRO will come back soon with SSLV-D2”.

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Somanath also said that that a set of experts will look into the failure and identify why it went into an unacceptable orbit. After carrying out the small corrections and revalidation of the corrections, ISRO will go for the next SSLV launch soon.

He also said the rocket’s three stages/engines and all other systems performed well.

However, the expert queried: “If the rocket’s propulsion had performed well, then it should have attained the required altitude and the intended orbit would have been obtained, is it not so?”

They also said ISRO should come out as to the sensor that failed and why it had failed and whether it is related to the component quality.

It is time ISRO gets its basics right, that is, its three rockets – SSLV, PSLV and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)- before looking at other ambitious missions, the experts added.

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