India's rocket fails to put satellites in right orbit in debut launch
India's new rocket launched for the first time on Saturday night (Aug. 6) but failed to deliver its satellite payloads into their intended orbit.
Science & Tech
India's new rocket launched for the first time on Saturday night (Aug. 6) but failed to deliver its satellite payloads into their intended orbit due to a sensor issue.
The 112-foot-tall (34 meters) Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) lifted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre on India's southeastern coast on Saturday at 11:48 p.m. EDT (0348 GMT and 9:18 a.m. India Standard Time on Sunday, Aug. 7) with two satellites onboard.
The rocket's three solid-fueled stages performed well, but its fourth and final stage, a liquid-fueled "velocity trimming module" (VTM), hit a snag: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) officials reported a loss of data from the rocket and, just over five hours after liftoff, ISRO announced the mission had failed.
The entire vehicle performance was very good" at the start, but ultimately left the two satellites in the wrong orbit, ISRO Chairman S. Somanath said in a video statement after the launch. "The satellites were placed in an elliptical orbit in place of a circular orbit
Instead of placing the satellites in a circular orbit 221 miles (356 kilometers) above Earth, the rocket left them in an orbit that ranged from 221 miles to as close as 47 miles (76 km). That orbit was not stable, and the satellites have "already come down, and they are not usable," Somanath said.
ISRO officials said on Twitter that a sensor failure that was not detected in time to switch to a "salvage action" caused the orbit issue. An investigation into the failure is planned.
"What we are going to do now is to identify this specific problem and why this isolation happened and why it went into an unacceptable orbit," Somanath said. ISRO will use that investigation to correct issues for a second test flight of the SSLV rocket, he added.
"But for that problem, we couldn't see any other anomalies," he added. "Every other new element that has been incorporated in this rocket performed very well."