India to Test World's Third Largest Solid Rocket Booster in Jan 2010

Date:   Wednesday , December 30, 2009

Indian space agency is expected to take major step in January 2010 towards realizing its next generation rocket by ground-firing the world’s third largest - in terms of fuel mass and length - solid rocket booster developed in-house.

An Indian Space Reasearch Organisation (ISRO) official says that the large solid propellant booster project was taken up nearly a decade ago and will achieve its first milestone next month. The 200-tonne solid propellant rocket booster; designed to power ISRO’s next generation (geosynchronous launch vehicle) GSLV Mark III, will be ground tested at India’s space port Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.

Measured in terms of diameter, ISRO’s new solid booster will rank second in the world with 3.2 metre, while that of Space Shuttle and Ariane measure were 3.6 metre and 3.05 metre respectively.

While the U.S. recovers the Space Shuttle booster steel casings for re-use, ISRO has no such plans as it requires parachutes for soft landing on the Indian seas and the issues relating to reuse. “The steel casing has to be cleaned of salt deposits and refurbished for re-use,” says an ISRO official.

The 42.4-metre-tall GSLV Mark III rocket with a lift off weight of 630 tonne is being designed to reach towards the heavens sometime in 2011 carrying communication satellites weighing upto five tonnes, making India self sufficient in respect of launch vehicles. The first stage of the three fuel stage rocket will be two identical solid boosters strapped onto the second stage. The third stage is the cryogenic stage powered by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.

ISRO’s existing rockets - the three stages GSLV and four stages Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) has a lower carrying capacity. The present GSLV can carry a luggage of 2.5 tonne to be ejected in geo-transfer orbit (GTO), while PSLV can sling 1.6 tonne and 1.1 tonne satellites into polar orbit and GTO respectively.