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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Little Late, But A Picture Perfect Launch

After the twin disasters in quick succession - GSLV and IRBM Agni III, both in July 2006 - and much debate about India's rocket technology capabilities, it is nice to see a picture perfect launch of PSLV-7. Although it was initially set to launch in 2006, it was probably better to postpone for diagnosis and doing it right. India's rocket technology is quite all right.

With a mix of solid (stages 1 and 3, and six strap-ons) and liquid (stages 2 and 4) fuels and a total weight of 295 tonnes and nine successive flights, PSLV is the India's rocket workhorse. The new new thing on this flight, beyound incremental improvements, is the dual launch adopter - an adopter that can carry and launch two large satellites at the same time.



PSLV-7


The significance of this launch is not really the rocket itself but one of the satellites, not in the conventional sense, which went for the ride - an experimental space capsule. The capsule itself is small - probably good for one person, but two may squeeze inside uncomfortably. The experiment is to monitor it for two weeks in space and bring it down to earth and recover it, presumably somewhere in Bay of Bengal.


Experimental Space Capsule


Obviously lot of new things were invented for this space capsule - other countries with space technology don't share human-reentry technology very easily - and need to be tested: heat shield (hope they designed a better one than NASA has on its shuttles), high-velocity parachute, metrics inside the capsule, and reentry control technology. Hope everything goes well and a Bharatiya man (or a women) will be in space soon (without all the pomp and silliness of the Chinese man-space flight).

My only complain about ISRO is with its horrible names. They really need to hire a few marketing people, or hire an ad agency, to come up with better names. GSLV/PSLV/INSAT - please! They can learn from our military - Agni, Nag, Trishul - now those are real names.

I surely hope they can hire those marketing people before they decide on an Indian name for human-in-space - cosmonaut, astronaut, and yuhangyuan are already taken.

2 comments:

Apun Ka Desh said...

This is great news.. and good analysis... but space launch of a human - is still 20 years away.. that is how far behind we are of China !

Chandra said...

Apun ka desh, the Chinese did it within a decade after announcing their intention to send a man into space. I am not why we would take 20 years. I don't think ISRO has set a firm window for man space flight yet.