Within two days of creating a history of launching 104 satellites in a single mission, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on 17 February 2017 successfully tested its indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) for GSLV MkIII rocket.
The cryogenic upper stage, designated as C25, was tested at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC) at Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu. It was tested for flight duration of 640 seconds. To validate all the systems, the C25 Stage was also successfully tested for 50 seconds on 25 January 2017.
The C25 stage is the most powerful upper stage developed by ISRO.
The Test and its process
As per ISRO, the Cryogenic Stage developments tests were carried in two phases and they are
• 1st stage - the stage was subjected to fluid mock-up, wherein the stage preparation and servicing at the launch complex in SDSC, the SHAR, Sriharikota was completed to prove all the ground facilities established for servicing the cryogenic stage.
• 2nd stage- the first stage was followed by testing of the Stage at ISRO Propulsion Complex, Mahendragiri.
From the Stage realisation to completion of testing was accomplished in four months.
With this successful test of the Cryogenic Upper Stage, India has joined the elite group of select countries that have the technology to in manufacture such engines. The other countries to have the technology are Russia, the US, China, Japan and France.
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Cryogenic engines are used in the upper stage of a rocket launch as they provide maximum thrust to a launch vehicle. The engine will be used in Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) MkIII rocket, which is scheduled to be launched in April 2017.
Geo-synchronous orbit is located at an altitude of 35786 kilometers (22236 miles) above Earth’s equator. It is most suitable for monitoring weather, surveillance and communications.
The vehicle consists of two solid strap-ons (S200) motors, one earth storable liquid core stage (L110) and the Cryogenic Upper Stage (C25).
GSLV Mk III rocket
• The GSLV MkIII rocket is almost 50 meters high and weighs 414 tons. It is capable of propelling 4-ton class satellites into geo-synchronous orbit (GSO), the altitude where satellites revolve in sync with the Earth’s rotation.
• The rocket was developed indigenously after Russia in late 1980s under pressure of the United States didn’t transfer the technology to India. The technology was required to build such engines.
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• It uses Liquid Oxygen (LOX) and Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) propellant combination.
• This stage is capable of carrying 27.8 tons of propellants that are loaded in two independent tanks.
• Development of a cryogenic stage has unique design challenges, with liquid Hydrogen stored at -253 deg C and liquid Oxygen stored at -195 deg C in its tanks. To store these cryogenic fluids, special multi-layer insulation is provided for the tanks and other structures.
• The cryogenic stage of the rocket was developed by Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) in support of System Development Agencies from other ISRO Centres of ISRO, viz., ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and Sathish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), SHAR.
• The rocket is a successor of GSLV Mark II, which was first launched in 2001.