Gisat-1 Satellite Launched, But Fails To Reach Orbit; Find Out What Went Wrong?


Trouble started brewing soon after the second stage shut off as the cryogenic stage did not ignite.

ISRO’s mission to put Geo Imaging Satellite (Gisat-1) in orbit failed early on Thursday morning.

The launch took place from Satish Dhawan Space Centre on Sriharikota Island in Andhra Pradesh.

First Failure Since 2017

This setback was the first since 2017 when a different indigenous rocket, a smaller Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), carrying a satellite for the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System failed.

This event was the first in 20 years for India’s PSLV.

The earth observation satellite was lost as the GSLV rocket carrying it suffered a malfunction about five minutes from the lift-off.

The Importance Of The Satellite

The EOS-03 Earth observation satellite was valuable in that it was supposed to be a “state-of-the-art” tool for ISRO to study our planet. 

It was supposed to last at least a decade while it functioned as an advanced “eye in the sky” performing several different functions such as :

  • Provide near real-time images of India
  • Track natural disasters and other short-term events 
  • Collect data to assist agriculture and forestry by monitoring crop health
  • Potential to help the armed forces plan operations

As part of the mission, the EOS-03 was supposed to be placed in a geostationary orbit.

Sequence Of Events

ISRO officially tweeted that while the first and second stages of the launch went as planned, the cryogenic upper stage ignition “did not happen due to technical anomaly.”

ISRO tweets about the incident.

In the first stage, the core stage burnout happened as planned which propelled the rocket on its path.

The second stage ignition was also successful which confirmed the payload fairing.

Trouble started brewing soon after the second stage shut off as the cryogenic stage did not ignite.

What Is The Cryogenic Stage?

The cryogenic stage is the last stage of space vehicle launch when low temperature materials are used to lift and place heavier objects in space.

Liquid Oxygen and Liquid Hydrogen are used as propellants.

Thereby, “the mission couldn’t be accomplished as intended.”

Veteran Scientist And Minister React

G Madhavan Nair is a veteran in rocket science who worked at ISRO from 2003 as Chairman and oversaw the success of 25 missions.

He said that today’s mission was a “very complex one” and that the final cryogenic stage is the “most difficult one compared to all other rocket propulsions.”

He maintained faith in ISRO to remain resilient in the face of such difficulties and that they will recover from this “shock” soon.

Union minister of state (MoS) in charge of the department of space Jitendra Singh said that the launch can be rescheduled at an unspecified date.

Other Plans Now Suspended

A major concern and consequence of this is that now the plans of launching at least four more missions by the end of 2021 will be put on hold as ISRO works to understand what went wrong today.

To that effect, it will set up a Failure Analysis Committee (FAC).

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