Lack of Pyro or fuel systems resulted in India losing rocket and satellite

By Venkatachari Jagannathan

Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh), 12th August (IANS) Lack of ignition or failure of the cryogenic engine to ignite or even avionics failure to transmit the ignition signal are considered as the reasons why Indian rocket went down early Thursday morning.

They also said the rocket systems could have failed as they were kept inactive for over a year due to technical and also due to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-F10 (GSLV-F10), which carries the country’s first Geo-Imaging Satellite (GISAT-1), was lifted from the spaceport of Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

The failure resulted in the loss of rocket and satellite, which valued both over several hundred crores of rupees and also the revenue opportunity for 10 years.

GISAT-1 / EOS-03, with a lifespan of 10 years, would have been the country’s first eye in the sky or the Earth observation satellite placed in geostationary orbit.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in a statement following the rocket failure said: “The GSLV-F10 launch took place on 12 August 2021 at 0543 HST as planned. The performance of the first and second stages was normal. However, Cryogenic Upper Stage ignition did not occur due to technical anomaly. The mission could not be carried out as intended. ”

What is the technical anomaly is the profound question.

“The cryogenic engine is a complex system and the error is not due to design errors,” former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) G. Madhavan Nair told IANS.

According to him, the ignition / pyrosystems could have ignited, but the fuel may not have had it due to various reasons.

Nair also accepted that keeping the rocket inactive for more than a year after it was ready for flight could also have affected the functionality of the components.

“It could be a mistake in aviation to send the ignition signal. Or a fault in the igniter, which is a pyro element where too few tests are performed in a batch in front of each component. In addition, there is a long storage of components due to pandemic delay, which causes some unnoticed component failure in the ignition system, “said another space official on condition of anonymity to IANS.

“The cryo scene ignited is not the cause – this is officially announced and can be seen in the basket,” the official added.

Originally, GISAT-1 / EOS-03 was scheduled for launch on March 5, 2020, but hours before launch, ISRO announced postponement of the mission due to some technical glitches.

Shortly after, the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown delayed the mission. The rocket had to be disassembled and cleaned up.

Subsequently, the launch of GISAT-1 / EOS-03 was scheduled for March 2021, but due to problems with the satellite’s battery side, the aircraft was delayed again.

With the replacement of the battery, the satellite and rocket became ready for their flight at Sriharikota when the second wave of Covid-19 swept in and affected many in the rocket launch center.

Another space sector expert, who prefers anonymity, told IANS: “When you look at the videos taken with the cameras attached to the rocket, you can conclude what the cause of the loss is.”

During the launch, ISRO announced the separation of the heat shield, the closure of the second stage and the firing of the cryogenic stage. Success with cryo-ignition and normal pressure was announced, ”said the expert.

“I would not be surprised that the heat shield was not disassembled, although telemetry may be correct and the vehicle is running out of orbit due to heat shield overload, apart from the satellite load,” he added.

“No separation of heat shields, even with four-way redundancy and yet transmission of proper telemetry, has been seen before. This phenomenon was seen in the PSLV 39 launch with IRNSS-1H on 31 August 2017. However, due to the presence of a built-in camera, the non-separated heat shield was detected. Otherwise, it could have gone away as a malfunction in the last stage of the rocket, “the expert noted.

However, Nair does not agree with this possibility.

“After the separation of the heat shield, the rocket had traveled for several seconds on the plotted path. Had the heat shield not separated, the rocket would have turned much earlier, ”said Nair.

According to him, detailed flight data will be available a few days later.

The cause (s) of non-firing of the cryogenic engine must be investigated by ISRO if a defective component was the cause.

Earlier in a GSLV rocket that went up, a component with a higher dimension than the one designed was fixed, and the rocket failed.

The Indian space agency does not insure its rockets and satellites launched from the country.

Ironically, Thursday’s failure comes on the birthday of Vikram Sarabhai, father of India’s space sector.

The 57.10 meter high, 416 ton GSLV-F10 lifted from the second launch pad at 5.43

With a strong deep growl rose to the sky and escaped from the second launch pad here at the Satish Dhawan Space Center.

GSLV-F10 is a three-stage / motor rocket. The core of the first stage is fired with solid fuel and the four clamping engines with liquid fuel. The second is liquid fuel and the third is the cryogenic engine.

Everything went well as planned until the cryogenic engine came into the picture about five minutes after the rocket’s flight.

ISRO had also announced the start / start of the cryogenic engine.

Just over five minutes into the rocket’s flight, the mission control center at the spaceport tensed up here.

The rocket was seen on the telemetry screen swinging away from its plotted path. No data came from the rocket.

Experts said the rocket and satellite would have burned into the atmosphere as they crashed.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at


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