India Successfully Launches Heaviest Rocket, GSLV-III, into Space
India yesterday successfully pulled-off the first flight of its new Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III (GSLV-III), the largest most powerful launch vehicle India has ever produced.
GSLV-III is classified as a medium-lift launch vehicle (MLV). The successful launch of the first GSLV-III on June 5 makes India only the fifth country or organization to place a three metric ton payload into Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
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GSLV-III is considered a potential game changer for India's booming space program. It can carry up to 4,000 kg into LEO, almost double the previous capacity of India's other MLVs.
GSLV-III was launched by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), India's equivalent of NASA, at 5:28 p.m. on June 5 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh state.
A medium-lift launch vehicle is defined as an orbital launch vehicle capable of lifting a payload weighing between 2,000 kg to 20,000 kg into LEO, and 4,000 kg to geostationary transfer orbit or GTO.
Payload of the GSLV-III's maiden flight was the 3,136 kg GSAT-19 communications satellite intended to improve India's internet connectivity. Only the United States, Russia, China, Japan and the European Space Agency (ESA) have successfully orbited heavy satellites weighing over three tonnes.
Indian media said the successful launch is widely viewed as a major step towards India's long-term goal of becoming a leading player in the multi-billion dollar global satellite launch market.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet described the launch as a proud moment for the country.
GSLV-III is affectionately known within ISRO as "Fat Boy" on account of its massive size. The three-stage Fat Boy stands 43 meters tall; has a diameter of four meters and has a mass of 640,000 kg.
GSLV-III features an Indian cryogenic third stage and a larger payload capacity than the current GSLV.
India previously paid ESA to launch satellites weighing more than 2,300 kg into orbit. There are currently 20 MLVs in operation worldwide.
Apart from GSLV-III, the other Indian MLVs are GSLV-I; GSLV-II and the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle or PSLV.