India has successfully carried out a crucial mission using new cryogenic rocket technology, expected to feature in a moon mission in 2017, scientists of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said Thursday.
"We have achieved another landmark. The launch vehicle performed extremely successfully," ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar said.
State-run television Doordarshan showed live footage of the lift-off of the latest version of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F05) from a space centre at Sriharikota in southern India.
The rocket, which put a weather satellite in orbit, was powered in its final stage by cryogenic technology that uses liquid fuels that have to be kept at low temperatures to prevent them from turning into gas.
Indian scientists have been developing the technology for over two decades, with some hitches and failed tests. Thursday’s mission was significant as it is the first operational test of the technology, ISRO spokesman DP Karnik said.
The GSLV is set to be used for India's second moon mission Chandrayaan 2, scheduled for some time in 2017-2019, Karnik said.
Scientists at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on the island of Sriharikota applauded as tracking systems at the centre showed the cryogenic unit performing optimally.
"Another magnificent mission; now we have to develop an entire cryogenic engine," the project's director P Kunhikrishnan said. In the current mission, the cryogenic unit propelled one of the rocket's three stages.
At 415 tons, the GSLV-F05 is ISRO's heaviest launch vehicle so far. It successfully launched an advanced weather satellite, weighing 2,211 kilograms, into a geo-synchronous orbit.
A successful GSLV launch would boost India's efforts to make inroads into the multi-million dollar commercial satellite launch market.
In recent years India's record of successful satellite launches has showcased the reliability and the cost-effectiveness of its space programme.