India conducts suborbital flight test of its prototype crew capsule and GSLV Mk III first stage

by | Dec 18, 2014 | India, Launches, Suborbital, test | 0 comments

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) conducted the first sub-orbital test launch of the GSLV Mk III launch vehicle carrying its Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) at 0400 GMT on the 18th December 2014.  The launch took place from the Satish Dawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on the East coast of India.

This sub-orbital launch had two main objectives. The first was to test the first stage and boosters of the new GSLV Mk III vehicle with the inert second stage of the vehicle carrying liquid nitrogen to simulate the fuel that an orbital launch would carry. The second objective was to test the re-entry and recovery of the CARE capsule for the future Indian manned space programme.

Lift off occurred after the two S200 solid rocket boosters (SRB) ignited and the vehicle climbed away from the pad.  At 114.71 seconds after lift off, the vehicle’s first stage engines ignited at an altitude of 43.43 kilometres.  The SRBs and the first stage both burned until 148.98 seconds into the flight when the SRBs separated from the vehicle. At 232.7 seconds after launch  the fairing was jettisoned from around the CARE capsule.

The first stage engines continued firing until 317.62 seconds into the flight when the engines shut down. The first stage of the vehicle separated from the inert second stage 2.8 seconds later. The second stage simulated its own shutdown 1.1 seconds later with the CARE capsule separating from the second stage 4 seconds later. The CARE capsule conducted just over two minutes of ex0atmospheric flight before conducting an unguided ballistic re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. After re-entry the capsule deployed parachutes to land in the Andaman Sea approximately 1600km from the launch centre and 180 kilometres south of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Capsule recovery was conducted by the Indian Coastguard.

The next flight of the GSLV Mk III is expected to be it’s first orbital launch carrying the GSAT  19E satellite in late 2016 or early 2017. Once operational the launch vehicle will be capable of carrying 10 tonnes to LEO or 4 tonnes to GTO.



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