The first experimental flight of India’s next generation launch vehicle GSLV Mk-III was successfully conducted on December 18, 2014 morning from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. Also known as LVM3, this suborbital experimental mission was intended to test the vehicle performance during the critical atmospheric phase of its flight and this carried passive (non functional) cryogenic upper stage.
THE SUCCESS TALE
The mission began with the launch of GSLV Mk-III at 9:30 am IST as scheduled and about 5.4 minutes later, carried its payload – the 3.8 ton Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) – to the intended height of 126 km. Following this, CARE separated from the upper stage of GSLV Mk-III and re-entered the atmosphere and safely landed over Bay of Bengal with the help of its parachutes about 20 minutes 43 seconds after lift-off.
The total budget of the experimental mission was Rs 155 crore, including the crew module, which cost Rs 15 crore. A few years back Isro had carried out a similar experiment, Space-capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE), on a smaller scale by PSLV in which the module had orbited around the earth for 15 days before entering back.
With this successful GSLV Mk-III X / CARE mission, the vehicle has moved a step closer to its first developmental flight with the functional C25 cryogenic upper stage. It will be the ISRO’s most powerful rocket, capable of putting four-tonne communication satellites into orbit. This launch was also an early test of a crew module being developed for human space flight.
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