he first experimental flight of ISRO’s most powerful launch vehicle GSLV-Mark IIIx carrying a prototype crew module, took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 9.30 am on Thursday (Dec 18, 2014) engulfing the surrounding areas in a shuddering roar delivering a text book launch.
Less than six minutes after takeoff, the crew module that mounted on the launch vehicle LVM-3 separated from the rocket at an altitude of around 126 kilometers and began its return journey to the earth’s atmosphere.
Exactly 20.10 minutes after the launch, ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan shook hands with his colleagues after the crew module descended and splashed down in the Bay of Bengal at a speed of just five meters per second.
Addressing the scientists gathered at the Mission Control Room in the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Radhakrishnan said, “The first experimental launch of GSLV-Mark III capable of carrying four tonne payloads performed as expected. The experiment within the experiment, to test the reentry characteristics of unmanned crew module was also a success. The crew module splashed down as expected in the Bay of Bengal.”
The ISRO chairman said that the first development flight of GSLV-Mark III would take place in two years time after the cryogenic engine C25 was ready. The main objective of this launch has been to test the two solid propellant motors S200 and the liquid propellant L110 that performed to perfection. The experiment also tested the reentry characteristics using parachutes. “The intention was to bring the splash down velocity to five meter second and it was achieved,” said K. Unnikrishnan Nair, project director of ISRO human space expedition programme.
An Indian Coast Guard ship Samudra Paheredar with ISRO team had earlier reached the impact point area two days before the launch and provided range clearance for safe landing. The ship had tracked the crew module during its passage from launch to its reentry and subsequent landing at sea using advance telemetry system from ISRO.
Indian Coast Guard Dornier from Campbell Bay carried out the initial surveillance and located the crew module at around 9.45 am and updated the position to the ship. The ship’s divers thereafter recovered the crew module later during the day braving the rough weather and difficult sea conditions, a coast guard release said.