INSAT-4C goes down in smoke in what ISRO calls ‘rare event’
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A day after the Agni-III ballistic missile failed to meet test expectations, India's space programme took a knocking when the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV FO2), carrying the INSAT-4C communication satellite, veered off course and exploded 60 seconds after lift-off.
The three-stage rocket burst into flames during the first stage operation, a minute after lift-off at 5.38 pm from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, some 80 km from Chennai.
The failure of the Rs 256 crore-mission was being attributed to pressure in one of the four strap-on motors dropping to zero in the first stage operation, causing the GSLV to "deviate slightly" from the designed trajectory.
"This is one of the rarest phenomena and could be due to a problem in one of the strap-ons which led to the mission's failure," said a crestfallen G Madhavan Nair, ISRO chairman, while briefing the media after the launch mishap.
"The problem developed in the course of the first stage. After the deviation, we gave the 'Destruct' command because we had to safeguard locals," he said, adding that the debris had fallen into the sea.
"A quick look at the preliminary findings show that of the four strap-on motors, pressure in one of them dropped to zero. The other three functioned normally," said Madhavan Nair. This caused the deviation in the trajectory. While four degrees of angular error was within the normal limit, the vehicle went off the path by 10 degrees.
According to the ISRO chief, work on another INSAT-4 satellite was on and "we will have a successful launch within a year". This would be a heavier satellite and would be launched from Kourou in French Guiana.
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