Monday, April 25, 2011

ISRO: India's GSLV Lost due to weak Russian Cryogenic Engine Connector

The destruction of India's (ISRO) Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) in mid air in 2010 was due to an inherent weakness in a component in the Russian supplied cryogenic engine.

"We did several simulation tests to find out why the connectors - the wires that carry command signals from the onboard computers at the top to the rocket's engines down below - snapped," former ISRO chief Madhavan Nair told IANS.

Nair, who headed the Failure Analysis Committee, said the 12-member panel submitted its report to ISRO two weeks back.

According to ISRO, the failed component, called shroud, was made of composites and is part of the Russian cryogenic engine. It got deformed due to the flight load.

ISRO's 418-tonne GSLV rocket (cost Rs.175 crore) carrying advanced communication satellite GSAT-5P (weight 2,310 kg, cost Rs.150 crore) veered off its flight path and began disintegrating within a minute after lift-off from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh last Christmas day.

As the weakness was inherent in the shroud, Nair said ISRO should have a dialogue with the Russians to see how the component could be strengthened.

Informed sources told IANS that even in the GSLV-F04 rocket launched in 2007, one of the connectors also snapped because of a weak shroud.

"The fault has always been there from the first GSLV that flew with the Russian cryogenic engine in 2001. The weakness in the shroud was detected by ISRO on December 25 last year," a source told IANS.

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