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GSLV-F10 Failure: ISRO’s EOS-03 Satellite Mission

  • 13 Aug 2021
  • 6 min read

Why in News

Recently, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) suffered the loss of an important earth observation satellite (EOS-03) during launch when the GSLV rocket carrying it malfunctioned about five minutes from the lift-off.

Earth Observation Satellites

  • Earth observation satellites are the satellites equipped with remote sensing technology. Earth observation is the gathering of information about Earth's physical, chemical and biological systems.
  • Many earth observation satellites have been employed on sun-synchronous orbit.
  • Other earth observation satellites launched by ISRO include RESOURCESAT- 2, 2A, CARTOSAT-1, 2, 2A, 2B, RISAT-1 and 2, OCEANSAT-2, Megha-Tropiques, SARAL and SCATSAT-1, INSAT-3DR, 3D, etc.

Key Points

  • About the EOS-03:
    • It was capable of imaging the entire country four to five times every day.
    • It was riding on a GSLV rocket (GSLV-F10), which has a new payload carrier designed to significantly reduce aerodynamic drag and thus carry larger payloads.
    • The rocket was supposed to deposit the satellite in the geostationary transfer orbit, from where the satellite’s onboard propulsion system will guide it to a geostationary orbit, 36,000 km from earth’s surface.
      • Geostationary transfer orbit is a circular orbit positioned approximately 35,900 km above Earth's equator and having a period of the same duration and direction as the rotation of the Earth.
      • An object in this orbit will appear stationary relative to the rotating Earth.
  • Significance:
    • EOS-03, part of the new generation of earth-observation satellites, was meant to provide almost real-time images of large parts of the country.
      • The images could be used for monitoring natural disasters like floods and cyclones, water bodies, crops, vegetation and forest cover.
    • EOS-03 was being sent ahead of EOS-02 which has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
      • EOS-02 was supposed to be launched around March-April this year, but now has been rescheduled for September-October.
      • EOS-02 was supposed to ride on ISRO’s new SSLV (Small Satellite Launch Vehicle) rocket.
      • SSLVs will broaden ISRO’s current rocket range that comprises PSLVs and GSLVs, and cater to the increasing demand for launching of small commercial satellites.
  • EOS-01:
    • In November 2020, ISRO had launched EOS-01, the first in the series of new earth observation satellites that bear a new generic naming system.
    • It is intended for applications in agriculture, forestry and disaster management support.

Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)

  • GSLV is a space launch vehicle designed, developed, and operated by the ISRO to launch satellites and other space objects into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbits.
    • Geosynchronous satellites are launched into orbit in the same direction the Earth is spinning and can have any inclination.
  • GSLV has the capability to put a heavier payload in orbit than the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
  • It is a three-stage launcher with strap-on motors.

Failure of the GSLV-F10

  • Reasons:
    • Liquid fuel strap-on boosters start the launch of the satellite by providing the extra thrust needed to lift the rocket off the ground.
    • Then, follows a solid fuel first stage with another liquid fuel stage coming next. These two stages operated as expected.
    • It was the rocket’s crucial third stage, which uses an indigenously-made Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) which then failed to ignite.
      • The cryogenic stage is “technically a very complex system compared to solid or earth-storable liquid propellant stages due to its use of propellants at extremely low temperatures and the associated thermal and structural problems".
  • Impacts on the Future Missions:
    • This was the second launch ISRO had lined up for 2021, which had suffered multiple delays after being originally scheduled for March 2020.
    • The failure breaks a series of 16 consecutive successful launches by ISRO since 2017.
    • Satellites had been planned for 2020-21, including OCEANSAT-3, GISAT-2, RISAT-2A, etc. with these missions set to cost an estimated Rs 701.5 crore.
    • Missions like Gaganyaan and Chandrayaan-3 will be launched on GSLV Mk-III, a more advanced version of the GSLV rocket that is designed to carry much heavier payloads into space.
    • It is a big cause of worry for the NISAR mission, a first-of-its-kind collaboration between NASA and ISRO for a joint earth-observation satellite.
      • NISAR, which will use two synthetic aperture radars (SAR) to monitor the entire Earth in a 12-day cycle, is the most important mission as yet involving the GSLV Mk-II rocket.

Source: IE

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