A successful launch of the Mars mission,set to be launched on Tuesday,will help Isro hide away a series of failures that its has experienced in recent times,particularly the setbacks in the development of its heavy lift Geo Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) which it needs to be in the premier league of space nations.
The GSLV programme which will help Isro put heavy communication satellites of the 2000 kg plus category in space,a capability it now lacks,and crucial to Chandrayaan 2 the space agencys full fledged exploratory mission to moon has been floundering in recent times with a launch scheduled for August 19 aborted after a leakage was detected in its systems.
Since 2001,in seven attempts to fly the GSLV which will give India a leg up in the nearly 2 billion dollar commercial communication satellite business Isro has had complete success only in two flights in the early stages of the development of the rocket technology.
One of the vocal critics of the move to go in for the Mars mission at the cost of focussing on the GSLV development and the Chandrayaan 2 mission has been former Isro chairman G Madhavan Nair who has labelled the Mars mission useless and merely a showpiece event.
Earlier this year as the launch dates for the Mangalyaan mission began to crystallise,Madhavan Nair said Isro would be better served to focus the Rs 450 crore it is putting into the Mars mission into getting the GSLV up and flying and concentrating on the next moon mission.
Instead of concentrating on practical missions we are spending money to prove nothing. Someone has made some statement that the Mars mission will prove new technologies. As a person familiar with these technologies I believe that there is no new technology involved, Nair said.
Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan says that the GSLV is set to be tested again on December 15.
GSLV is essential. We have been working on an indigenous cryo stage for the last 20 years we have to stick to it. GSLV MK III is another advanced vehicle which we are developing. Now we are going to have the ground test of the cryogenic stage also. We had a small test last week that was successful, he said.
Radhakrishnan also disagrees that the GSLV programme will help Isro move immediately up the commercial food chain in the space launch business. The GSLV has not done any commercial launches as yet. The PSLV is still our best commercial launch vehicle, he said.
According to the Isro chairman the Chandrayaan 2 mission has been a setback not because of the floundering GSLV programme but rather with the Russians pulling out on providing a rover and lander in order to focus on its own space programme following the 2011 failed Phobos -Grunt mission to Mars carrying Russian and Chinese payloads.