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ISRO's GSLV fails to place earth observation satellite into orbit

A technical anomaly in the rocket's cryogenic stage ignition hampered the Indian space agency's latest launch

ISRO's earth observation satellite EOS-03 on-board GSLV-F10 blasts off from Sriharikota,Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. ISRO plans to place an earth observation satellite failed as the rocket GSLV-F10did not place the satellite EOS-03 into the intended orbit due to a technical anomaly identified in the cryogenic stage, in Sriharikota, (PTI)

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)'s GSLV rocket on Thursday morning failed to inject into the orbit, the country's latest earth observation satellite EOS-03 due to a failure to ignite the cryogenic stage of the launch vehicle. The space agency declared the mission could not be achieved as intended.

The rocket's first and second stages had performed normally, the Bengaluru-headquartered space agency said. In a notification, ISRO said: "GSLV-F10 launch took place today at 0543 hrs as scheduled. Performance of first and second stages was normal. However, Cryogenic Upper Stage ignition did not happen due to technical anomaly. The mission could not be accomplished as intended."

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According to ISRO, the cryogenic upper stage ignition was scheduled to take place 4.56 minutes after the lift-off. A formal announcement was also made at the Mission Control Centre by the range operations director, stating that: "performance anomaly observed in the cryogenic stage. The mission could not be accomplished fully." ISRO Chairman K Sivan said, "(the mission) could not be fully accomplished mainly because there is a technical anomaly observed in the cryogenic stage. This I wanted to tell all my friends."

ISRO, after facing plenty of hurdles and delays caused by the covid-19 pandemic, resumed launch operations for the rocket to place the satellite with an objective to provide near real-time imaging of large areas of the country at frequent intervals and quick monitoring of natural disasters. As the 26-hour countdown concluded on Thursday, the 51.70 metre tall rocket with four stages lifted off majestically at 05.43hrs, leaving behind a trail of thick orange coloured fumes, a Press Trust of India report adds.

ISRO's earth observation satellite EOS-03 on-board GSLV-F10 blasts off from Sriharikota, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021.
ISRO's earth observation satellite EOS-03 on-board GSLV-F10 blasts off from Sriharikota, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. (PTI)

The four-stage rocket was the first to carry a four-metre dia 'Ogive Payload Fairing' at the top of the vehicle to accommodate larger payloads. The rocket was supposed to place the EOS "an agile state-of-the-art satellite" into the geosynchronous transfer orbit, 19 minutes after lift-off, the PTI report adds.

Thursday morning's unsuccessful attempt to launch the satellite came in the wake of scientists postponing earlier planned missions. The satellite, originally titled GISAT-1 -- and weighing 2,268 kg -- was slated to be launched on March 5, 2020, but it was postponed a day before lift-off due to 'technical reasons'. The pandemic-induced lockdown further delayed the mission and it was scheduled for a March 28, 2021 launch but a 'minor issue' with the satellite forced yet another delay.

The objective of Thursday's mission was to provide near real-time imaging of large area regions at frequent intervals, for quick monitoring of natural disasters, episodic events and obtain spectral signatures for agriculture, forestry, water bodies as well as for disaster warning, cyclone monitoring, cloud burst and thunderstorm monitoring.

Before Thursday's launch, ISRO had successfully launched Brazil's earth observation satellite Amazonia-1 and 18 co-passenger satellites in February this year. Thursday's mission is the eighth flight with indigenous cryogenic engine, 14th flight of the GSLV and also marks the 79th launch vehicle mission from Sriharikota.

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