Using its most powerful rocket, India, on Monday, June 5, launched a communication satellite into orbit, boosting the country's prospect of getting a bigger share of the global space industry and raising hopes for a manned mission in the future.
Perfect Launch Of GSAT-19 Communication Satellite Into Orbit
At 5:28 p.m. (11:58 GMT), the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk III, also known as "Fat Boy," blasted off from India's Sriharikota space center, one of the two sites that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) uses to launch satellites, carrying GSAT-19, a communication satellite of India.
The GSLV Mk III rocket carried the satellite that weighs 3,136 kilograms or more than 3 tons, with height equivalent to that of a 13-story building, the heaviest that India attempted to place into orbit.
"GSLV Mk III has put GSAT-19, which is a next generation satellite, into orbit," ISRO chief A.S. Kiran Kumar said of what he described as a perfect launch. "The information from the satellite is being tracked. And it is good."
GSLV Mk III Mega-Rocket
The GSLV Mk III rocket features a powerful engine that India developed over many years as the Asian country hopes to reduce its reliance on European engines that has propelled some of India's spacecraft in the past. It is a cryogenic engine that took the country 20 years to develop.
"GSLV Mk III is a three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle developed by ISRO. The vehicle has two solid strap-ons, a core liquid booster and a cryogenic upper stage," ISRO described the rocket on its website.
"GSLV Mk III is designed to carry 4 ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which is about twice the capability of GSLV Mk II."
New Feather In The Cap Of ISRO Scientists
The launch places another feather in the cap of ISRO scientists who won Asia's race to Mars in 2014, when an Indian-made spacecraft reached planet Mars with a relatively small budget of $73 million when compared with NASA's Maven Mars mission that cost the United States $671 million. ISRO now considers the idea of sending missions to Venus and Jupiter.
"The GSLV - MKIII D1/GSAT-19 mission takes India closer to the next generation launch vehicle and satellite capability," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted. "The nation is proud!"
Other Plans Under India's Space Program
India aims to get a bigger share of the booming commercial satellite. Earlier this year, India launched a record 104 satellites into orbit using a single rocket, which surpassed Russia's record of 39 satellites in a June 2014 mission.
ISRO has also considered a crewed space mission that would send astronauts into low-Earth orbit albeit the Indian government has not yet green-lighted this program.
The countries that have successfully sent astronauts into orbit are Russia, United States, and China. India appears keen on becoming the fourth nation to be included in this elite group of countries that have left their mark in the field of spaceflight.