Watch: ISRO completes crucial Solid Rocket Booster test for human spaceflight

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully completed the first static test firing of its “HS200” rocket booster at 7:20 a.m. Friday at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota. This booster is a modified and human-adapted version of the existing “S200” booster that is used on the Indian space agency’s heaviest rocket, the GSLV Mk3. Friday’s test is in line with the human evaluation process, where the agency modifies the GSLV Mk3 rocket and its components to carry astronauts. Simply put, the GSLV Mk3 rocket is a cargo carrier, meant to take satellites into space. Today, it is modified and tested to be safe and suitable for transporting humans in space, as part of India’s Gaganyaan Human Spaceflight program.

WION spoke with Dr. S. Unnikrishnan Nair, Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (VSSC) to understand the significance of the test. The VSSC is the principal center of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the pioneers of rocket research and launch vehicle projects of ISRO.

According to Dr Nair, their teams had been working on making modifications to the S200 rocket booster since 2019 and had improvised directly from small components such as igniters, digital control electronics and had even developed the largest electromechanical actuators in the rocket. ‘ISRO. In this case, the electromechanical actuator will be used to direct the thrust of the S200 thruster and possibly the rocket travel, by adjusting the direction of the nozzle. Friday’s ground test involved the static firing of a solid propellant for a duration of 135 seconds.

“Reducing chamber pressure, ensuring tightness, robustness, higher margins, etc. are some of the modifications we have made to the S200, to increase its reliability, as part of the human evaluation process “, said Dr Nair when asked about the difference between the existing S200 and the human version. He also added that nearly 700 parameters (such as chamber pressure, thrust, shock, vibration, etc.) were monitored during the test and how everything turned out perfect. However, he said the data set would need to be looked at closely to determine if another test of the same booster would be needed.

The GSLV Mk3 is a three-stage rocket, where the first stage (S200) is powered by solid fuel, the second stage (L110) is powered by liquid fuel and the third (cryogenic stage C25) is powered by liquid hydrogen and liquid. oxygen. In a rocket like this, the stages work like runners in a relay race. The first stage fulfills its part then entrusts the task to the second, the second fulfills its part then entrusts the task to the third. Finally, the third stage performs its task and injects the payload (satellite or capsule carrying the man) into the desired orbit.

In particular, of the three propulsion stages of the GSLV Mk3, the human versions of the second stage known as L110-G (loaded with liquid propellant) and the third stage C25-G (with cryogenic propellant) are in the final qualification phase including tests with static firing .

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The HS200 booster test fired on Friday was loaded with 203 tons of solid propellant, the booster is 20 meters long and 3.2 meters in diameter. It is the 2nd largest operational thruster in the world powered by solid propellant. With the successful completion of this test, ISRO takes a step closer to the Gaganyaan program.

ISRO has been working on the ambitious Gaganyaan mission which is to demonstrate indigenous capability to undertake a human spaceflight mission in low Earth orbit and will lay the foundation for a sustained program of long term Indian human space exploration. Under this program, two uncrewed missions and one crewed mission are approved by the Indian government.

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