August 12, 2021 7:03:29 am
A day ahead of the 102nd birth anniversary of India’s space programme doyen Vikram Sarabhai, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre director Somnath Sreedhara Panicker hailed Sarabhai and Satish Dhawan for their contribution to the space programme and launching vehicles. He also paid tribute to ISRO scientist R Aravamudan, who was associated with the Indian space programme from its initial days in 1962, and passed away on August 4.
Speaking at a virtual event organised by the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad on Wednesday, Panicker listed the evolution of launch vehicles in ISRO and challenges faced along the way, including the many failures which only made them realise the importance of “controlled interaction of structures”.
“It was a learning period in the launch vehicle technology,” added Panicker referring to the late 1980s.
Highlighting that with a change in the type of satellites which are being launched, the market demand for launchers is slowly changing. “Thousands of satellites are getting launched and can we make a rocket which can meet such a demand? We came up with an answer that we will make solid-based rockets with a liquid-based upper stage. We are able to produce this very very fast. Typically we take 10 years to develop a rocket but this rocket (Small Satellite Launch Vehicle -SSLV) was developed in one-and-half years and we are now getting ready for our first launch. Without COVID19, I think we would have launched by now…After one or two launches by SSLV, it will go to industry…we have quite a bit of market in India and outside as well.”
“Today in ISRO we have a grip on the propulsion technologies. We have all types of rockets, all types of rocket fuels, and we are developing new ones. We are developing kerosene-based, we are developing hydrogen-based, we are developing green propellants and we have created a string of evaluation facilities across centres,” said Panicker.
Panicker reminisced that it took almost 20 years to master the cryogenic engine of GSLV, which has now evolved in today’s GSLV Mk-III, which launched Chandrayaan-2. He remarked that the successes we enjoy now in the space programme is a result of the failures faced over the years.
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