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GSLV Rocket Nicknamed ‘Naughty Boy’

Why is it in the news?

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully placed the meteorological satellite INSAT-3DS into its intended orbit.
  • This mission was accomplished using the Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle F14 (GSLV-F14), demonstrating the capability of ISRO’s GSLV rocket series to deploy critical payloads into space.

About Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)

  • The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) is a space launch vehicle developed and operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is designed to place satellites and other space objects into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbits (GTO).
  • GSLV is primarily used for launching communication satellites, which require placement into geosynchronous orbits where they appear to remain permanently fixed in the same position in the sky relative to Earth.
  • The GSLV rocket has earned the nickname ‘naughty boy’ due to its history of relatively high failure rates compared to other launch vehicles. Out of the 15 previous launches with GSLV, 4 have been unsuccessful, leading to its reputation for unpredictability and occasional unreliability.
  • GSLV is a three-stage launch vehicle, featuring strap-on motors to augment its thrust during liftoff and ascent.
  • One of the primary advantages of GSLV over other Indian launch vehicles like the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is its capability to carry heavier payloads into orbit.
  • Geosynchronous satellites launched by GSLV are placed into orbits that synchronize with Earth’s rotation, allowing them to maintain a fixed position relative to the ground. This is crucial for communication satellites, as it enables continuous coverage of specific geographic regions.

Problems with GSLV:

  • The GSLV rocket has faced significant challenges, particularly with its cryogenic engine, which powers the third and final stage of the flight.
  • ISRO initially attempted to acquire cryogenic technology from Russia but faced opposition from the United States, leading to the decision to reverse-engineer the cryogenic engine based on Russian designs.
  • The reverse-engineered cryogenic engine has been a source of concern, contributing to failures in several GSLV missions. This underscores the technical complexity and challenges associated with cryogenic propulsion systems.

Significance of Cryogenic Engines:

  • Cryogenic engines are highly advanced propulsion systems that utilize extremely low-temperature propellants, typically liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid hydrogen (LH2).
  • Despite their complexity, cryogenic engines offer unparalleled efficiency, providing greater thrust per unit of fuel compared to traditional solid or liquid propellant rocket stages.
  • Only a handful of countries, including the United States, Russia, France/European Space Agency, China, Japan, and India, have developed their own indigenous cryogenic engines.


Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO):

·       Transfer orbits are a special kind of orbit used to get from one orbit to another.

·       To attain geosynchronous (and also geostationary) Earth orbits, a spacecraft is launched into an elliptical orbit with an apoapsis altitude of around 37,000 km. This is called a GTO.

Geostationary orbit (GEO):

·       Satellites in GEO circle Earth above the equator from west to east by travelling at the same rate as Earth.

·       This makes satellites in GEO appear to be ‘stationary’ over a fixed position.

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