Sriharikota: Taking its baby steps towards realising India’s ambition to send humans into space, ISRO on Thursday successfully tested the atmospheric re-entry of a crew module after its heaviest launch vehicle GSLV Mk-III blasted off from here.
Exactly 5.4 minutes after lift off at 9.30 AM from the Second Launch Pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre here, the module separated from the rocket at an altitude of 126 km and re-entered Earth’s atmosphere (about 80 km from sea level).
It descended in a ballistic mode and splashed down into the Bay of Bengal, some 180 km from Indira Point, the southern tip of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The LVM3-X flight with active S200 and L110 propulsion stages and a passive C25 stage with dummy engine, carried CARE (Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment) as its payload.
Weighing over three tonnes, the 2.7-metre tall cup cake shaped crew module with a diameter of 3.1 metres, which features aluminium alloy internal structure with composite panels and ablative thermal protection systems, was made to safely drop down into the sea by specially-made parachutes from Agra-based DRDO lab Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment.
The experiment also witnessed the largest parachute in action ever made in the country. The main parachute, which helped the crew module touch the waters at around 7 metre/second speed, was 31 metres in diameter.
Soon after the successful test flight, a delighted ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan said, “This was a very significant day in the history of Indian space programme for the development of the advanced launch vehicle that could carry a 4-tonne class of communication satellite into orbit.”