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India Planning To Launch Satellite Using Cryogenic Engine

April 8, 2010

India is planning to launch a new, advanced communications satellite into orbit using a vehicle powered by a cryogenic engine developed by homegrown scientists, according to BBC News reports.

On Tuesday, BBC News noted that India is one of just five nations in the world to have cryogenic engine technology, which utilizes supercooled fuel. According to their science correspondent Jonathan Amos, “a successful launch would be another milestone” for the country’s burgeoning space program, and that this announcement marks “a significant development for India as an emerging space power.”

Cryogenic engines utilize propellants (typically hydrogen or oxygen) that need to be kept at extremely cold temperatures to remain in liquid form. They are considered to be the highest performing rocket engines and have immense fuel efficiency, though the fuel tanks tend to be large and need to be insulated heavily in order to maintain temperature.

India’s engine will be used to power their Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), which is scheduled to launch on April 15. The GSLV will depart from a launch pad located in the eastern India city of Sriharikota and will carry and deploy the communications orbiter into space.

Space-related technology in India is overseen by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which was formed in 1969 and has since emerged as one of the top cosmic research and development bodies in the world. With this launch, India is looking to join the United States, Russia, China, and Japan has countries that have developed cryogenic engines for use by spacecrafts.

According to the ISRO’s official website, “The objective of ISRO is to develop space technology and its application to various national tasks. ISRO has established two major space systems, INSAT for communication, television broadcasting and meteorological services, and Indian Remote Sensing Satellites (IRS) system for resources monitoring and management. ISRO has developed two satellite launch vehicles, PSLV and GSLV, to place INSAT and IRS satellites in the required orbits.”

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