India launches biggest ever rocket into space

December 18, 2014
The Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk-III rocket lifts off from The Satish Dhawan Space Centre on Sriharikota Island, some 80kms north of Chennai, December 18, 2014

India successfully launched its biggest ever rocket on Thursday carrying an unmanned capsule which could one day send astronauts into space, as the country ramps up its ambitious space programme.

The rocket, designed to carry heavier communication and other satellites into higher orbit, blasted off from Sriharikota in the southeast state of Andhra Pradesh in a test mission costing nearly $25 million.

"This was a very significant day in the history of (the) Indian space programme," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K.S Radhakrishnan said from mission control as fellow scientists clapped and cheered.

ISRO scientists have been riding high since an Indian spacecraft successfully reached Mars in September on a shoe-string budget, winning Asia's race to the Red Planet and sparking an outpouring of national pride.

Although India has successfully launched lighter satellites in recent years, it has struggled to match the heavier loads that other countries increasingly want sent up.

The new rocket, weighing 630 tonnes and capable of carrying a payload of 4 tonnes, is a boost for India's attempts to grab a greater slice of the $300-billion global space market.

"India, you have a new launch vehicle with you. We have made it again," said S. Somnath, director of the mission.

"The powerful launch vehicle has come to shape, which will change our destiny... (by) placing heavier spacecraft into communications orbits."

The GSLV MK-III rocket sits on launch pad at The Satish Dhawan Space Centre on Sriharikota Island, some 80kms north of Chennai, on December 17, 2014

The rocket was carrying an unmanned crew capsule which ISRO said successfully separated from the rocket and splashed down in the Bay of Bengal off India's east coast 20 minutes after liftoff.

The Indian-made capsule is designed to carry up to three astronauts into space.

ISRO officials said the crew capsule would be "recovered" from the sea and ferried back to Sriharikota by Friday for further studies.

India's manned spaceflight programme has seen multiple stops and starts in recent years, and ISRO says the crew capsule project would take at least another seven years to reach the point where an astronaut could be put into space.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the test mission as "yet another triumph of (the) brilliance and hard work of our scientists" in a post on Twitter.

Radhakrishnan said the next step would be to develop a more power indigenous engine, reducing India's reliance on those built in Europe, for the rocket, which is officially named the Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk-III.

"Our own cryogenic engine, which is at development stage, will be used in powering the advanced heavy rockets in the next two years," he said.

Explore further: After Mars, India space chief aims for the moon

Related Stories

After Mars, India space chief aims for the moon

November 11, 2014

India now has its sights set on low-budget missions to land on the moon and study the sun after becoming the first country in Asia to reach Mars, the head of its space agency said Tuesday.

India's spacecraft 'on target' to reach Mars

September 15, 2014

An Indian spacecraft is on course to reach Mars, an official said Monday, following a 666-million-kilometre voyage that could see New Delhi's low-cost space programme win Asia's race to the Red Planet.

Indian-French satellite put into orbit

October 12, 2011

An Indian-French satellite that will study monsoon patterns and global warming was launched on Wednesday from a space centre in southern India.

India set to launch Mars mission in 2013

August 2, 2012

India plans to launch a mission to Mars next year, putting an orbital probe around the red planet to study its climate and geology, top space department officials said on Thursday.

India sets November 5 for Mars mission launch

October 22, 2013

Scientists on Tuesday set November 5 for the delayed launch of India's first mission to Mars, which was postponed due to problems in positioning a seaborne tracking system.

Recommended for you

Solar eruptions could electrify Martian moons

October 18, 2017

Powerful solar eruptions could electrically charge areas of the Martian moon Phobos to hundreds of volts, presenting a complex electrical environment that could possibly affect sensitive electronics carried by future robotic ...

8 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

hemipwr54
1 / 5 (6) Dec 18, 2014
More contribution to Gullible Warning/Calamity Claim.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (9) Dec 18, 2014
Despite what dumdum above spouted, I congratulate the Indian space agency for this successful mission. Well done guys, hope you can continue the successes.
hurricane25
5 / 5 (4) Dec 18, 2014
I agree with Maggnus. Good job india. You might just beat America back to the moon!
cjn
5 / 5 (3) Dec 19, 2014
"Biggest Rocket Ever" (title) or "[India's] biggest ever rocket..." (article)? There is a difference, but I just assume the title was to serve as click-bait.

Nonetheless, I think its great that India is pursing and achieving these gains. India could be the partner NASA and the ESA needs to accelerate human space travel.
Agomemnon
5 / 5 (1) Dec 19, 2014
congrats India
BSD
not rated yet Dec 21, 2014
And still they don't have a proper, working sewer network and people shitting in the streets of Mumbai.

India's priorities are wrong
Rebootedc
not rated yet Dec 22, 2014
25M$ is dirty cheap. NASA should take note.
ACW
not rated yet Dec 22, 2014
Again proof that most of the NASA infrastructure should be streamlined and cost-plus done away with. Even with India borrowing some of the tech, 25 mil would not launch anything at NASA except an investigation.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.