On January 7th the ISRO successfully powered the GSLV-D5 that placed the GSAT-14 satellite into the lower orbit of the earth for the first time. ISRO’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle put a 2.1 ton and 161 feet tall communication satellite in orbit which blasted off at 1048 GMT (5.48 EST) on January 5th. GSLV is a three stage vehicle, 49 metres tall and 414 tonnes lift off weight. It has a maximum diameter of 3.4 metres at the payload fairing. First stage comprises S125 solid booster with four liquid (L40) strap-ons. Second stage (GS2) is liquid engine and the third stage (GS3) is a cryo stage. The vehicle develops a lift off thrust of 6573 KN.
WHAT?! Please don’t make that awful expression, and look at this article while at the same time, ask yourself “What the hell did I just read?” Yes, well I’m no space scientist or expert and all of that technical jargon sounded absolutely absurd to me as well. My aim is certainly not to provide you with scientific facts and information about the GSLV; I could trust my dear friend Wikipedia to oblige you by performing that mammoth task. My question is simply- what position does this put India in on the international front?
Firstly and most importantly, it does put India alongside five major powers who dominate the outer space province i.e. United States, Russia, China, Japan and Europe. It places India in the lucrative market for launching telecommunication satellites and India has now entered into the league of the ‘big boys’ of space exploration. Also, why this was so necessary was because it helped India regain its self esteem. It was essential for them to prove to the U.S. that despite obstructing the sale of three cryogenic engines and other technological transfers from Russia to India (about twenty years ago) India is self sufficient to develop a GSLV on its own. Therefore, the obstructions placed by the United States two decades ago acted as a great deal of determination and gave the necessary impetus to the Indian scientists to prove their capabilities; contrary to sincere efforts made by USA to bully a “fuccha” (fresher!) in the arena of space development.
So this is how it goes. Here’s what actually happened in the 1990’s. Though India was pursuing a non-alignment policy during the cold war, it was friendly with the Soviet Union and the United States; while on the other hand it had close ties with beloved long lost brother- Pakistan. U.S.A then came up with the bizarre explanation that the transfer of cryogenic engines from Russia to India might potentially violate international agreements and shall be used for military purposes. Unfortunately for India, Russia was heavily dependent on U.S. funding after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and political pressure in the form of sanctions on Russia’s space agency led to the deal between Russia and India falling through. India’s ego was hurt so badly and it continued till date; and even though it took twenty long years, the success of the GSLV was more than needed.
The GSLV rocket will also add to India’s GDP in the long run as it would make India capable of launching communication satellites for itself as well as for others. This would reduce the thousands of rupees which the Indian Government adds to the treasuries of other countries in the form of funds spent on commercial launches for India and also help the ISRO to earn some good moolah.
This move received a lot of limelight and was flashed in the headlines as well. It had the privilege of being addressed by the man himself….of course I am talking of Arnab Goswami who dedicated an entire episode of “The News Hour” debating on how investment in space research and development is a national wastage. Quite an honor, isn’t it? The scientists behind it would be feeling like absolute celebrities. Thus, the Government will have to invest whole heartedly towards this particular field so that the “aam aadmi” (with their respective mufflers of course) is also convinced that it isn’t a waste of funds after all.
Coming back to what I initiated with, yes it does place India on a stronger footing but there is still a lot to be done. Complete self sufficiency, rather far-fetched at this point of time cannot happen with the flash of an eyelid of course; but at least the GSLV is a small step towards the right direction. And I call it a small step because nevertheless, it is just the beginning. It is only the first feather in the cap, the rest are still to come.