You are currently viewing GSLV Mk II fails to launch Indian Earth observation satellite
Image Credit: ISRO.

GSLV Mk II fails to launch Indian Earth observation satellite

The launch of a GSLV Mk II rocket with the Indian EOS-03 Earth observation satellite has failed due to an anomaly occurring during the rocket’s third stage’s burn. The three-stage, medium-lift launch vehicle blasted off from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on the island of Sriharikota in India at 00:13 UTC / 05:43 IST (local time) and should carry the EOS-03 spacecraft into a geostationary transfer orbit.

The launch was just the second rocket launch conducted by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 2021. The first one, a PSLV-DL with 19 satellites, launched from the spaceport on February 18.

Launch of GSLV Mk II with EOS-03. Image Credit: ISRO.
Launch of GSLV Mk II with EOS-03. Image Credit: ISRO.

The EOS-03 satellite

EOS-03, also known as GEO Imaging Satellite or GISAT, was an Indian Earth observation satellite to be stationed in a geostationary Earth orbit. The satellite would have provided near real time imaging of large areas of land to monitor natural disasters, episodic events and short term events. The 2,268 kg heavy spacecraft would have been India’s most advanced Earth observation satellite.

The launch of EOS-03 was postponed multiple times due to technical issues and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The GSLV Mk II rocket

The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark II, or GSLV Mk II for short, is a three-stage, medium-lift launch vehicle operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation. With a height of 51.70 m, the GSLV Mk II is the tallest rocket ever developed by India.

The rocket, which is launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on the island of Sriharikota in India, had its maiden flight and first launch failure on April 15, 2010, launching GSAT-4, an experimental communications and navigation satellite. So far, the vehicle has conducted eight missions, six of which successful.

During the first few minutes of flight, the rocket is powered by the S139 first stage and four liquid-fueled L40 strap-on boosters. The S139 has a length of 20.2 m, a diameter of 2.8 m and a launch mass of 160.8 tonnes. The stage uses a solid fuel as a propellant and generates a maximum thrust of about 4,700 kN. The L40 booster rockets on the other hand are burning a liquid bipropellant consisting of dinitrogen tetroxide and unsymmetrial dimethylhydrazine (UDMH). Each booster is 19.7 m in height, 2.1 m in diameter and has launch mass of 190.9 t.

Once the boosters are jettisoned and the S139 is separated, the GL40 second stage continues to carry the payload toward its target orbit. The liquid-fueled stage is equipped with a single Vikas rocket engine, burning the same type of propellant as the L40 boosters. The GL40 has a length of 11.9 m, a diameter of 2.8 m and a launch mass of 47.3 tonnes. The stage is able to generate up to 800 kN of thrust and has a burntime of about 150 seconds.

After the separation of the GL40, the third and final stage called the CUS-15, fires its engine. The 9.9 m long liquid oxygen / liquid hydrogen fueled cryogenic rocket stage is equipped with a single CE-7.5 rocket engine, generating up to 75 kN of thrust. The CE-7.5, which has a burntime of about 720 s, is India’s first cryogenic rocket engine. During the burn of this stage, the anomaly resulting in the loss of today’s mission occurred.

The GSLV Mk II is capable of launching a five tonnes heavy satellite into a low Earth orbit, or a 2,500 kg spacecraft into a geostationary transfer orbit.

Launch of a GSLV Mk II with GSAT-7A. Image Credit: ISRO.
Launch of a GSLV Mk II with GSAT-7A. Image Credit: ISRO.

Mission profile

At T-4.8 s, the four liquid-fueled L40 strap-on boosters ignited, shortly followed by the ignition of GSLV Mk II’s core stage at T 0.

109 s after liftoff, the solid-fueled S139 first stage burned out.

About 2 1/2 minutes into the flight, the L40 boosters shut down and separated from the launch vehicle.

Just one second later, the rocket’s GL40 second stage began firing and the S139 first stage was separated from the rocket.

At T+3 min 55 s, the two payload fairing halves were jettisoned, exposing the EOS-03 Earth observation satellite to the vacuum of space.

Around a minute later at T+4 min 51 s, the GL40’s propellant levels depleted and the stage shut down ahead of the final stage separation.

For the next ~13 minutes, the liquid oxygen / liquid hydrogen fueled cryogenic CUS-15 third stage would have continued to carry the payload into its target orbit, however shortly after stage separation the CUS-15 experienced an anomaly, resulting in the loss of the mission.

If everything would have gone as planned, the third stage would have shut down about 18 1/2 minutes after launch and would have separated the EOS-03 satellite just moments later.

The spacecraft would then have utilze its own onboard propulsion system to raise its transfer orbit and to station itself in a geostationary Earth orbit.


Sources:

https://www.isro.gov.in/gslv-f10-eos-03/gslv-f10-eos-03-brochure

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/launch-of-indias-new-age-earth-imaging-satellite-by-may-15-k-sivan/articleshow/82074910.cms

https://www.isro.gov.in/launchers/gslv

Leave a Reply