India has once again demonstrated it is one of the heavy hitters in the fields of space exploration and communications with the successful launch of the Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) D6 carrying the country's most recent communications satellite, GSAT-6.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said the launch took place Thursday night in Andhra Pradesh at the Sriharikota spaceport.
Experts say what is of particular interest to space watchers is that the launch and successful beginning of the communication satellites operations, is ISRO's second success using all Indian made cryogenic stage engine and components. The first in January, 2014 - GSLV-D5 - saw India into join an elite group of nations ( Russia, U.S.A. China, Japan and France) that have used "homegrown complex cryogenic engine and stage components” .
The cryogenic engine system is vital for the launch of satellites that weigh over two tonnes and is more efficient than earlier conventional engines as it gives more thrust for every kilogram of propellant used. Previously India's satellites were launched by European made Ariane launchers which according to ISRO are more expensive than the indigenous products.
The GSLV rocket engine works in three stages, the first fired with solid fuel, the second liquid fuel and the third the cryogenic engine.
The latest satellite’s expected mission life is nine years.
India has had three unsuccessful attempts at similar launches using Indian made equipment.
Mission Director R Umamaheswaran described the launch as a "Onam gift" saying the “naughty boy” (cryogenic stage) had become the “most adored boy of the ISRO”.
ISRO chairman Kiran Kumar said "We have demonstrated what happened in January 2014 was no fluke, it was a result of tremendous effort put in by the entire team for the indigenous cryogenic stage... various intricacies of cryogenic have been understood.”