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In the 1980's India began designing the GSLV, a Delta-II class medium launch vehicle, with an objective of placing 2.5 metric ton payloads into GTO. The development and launch of the GSLV rocket is a priority item in the 20-year Indian national space programme aimed at creating a dense satellite network to meet the country's requirements for telecommunications, Earth sounding, environmental monitoring and other systems, as well as India's entrance to the international market of space. The task set for Indian designers for the near future is to ensure launching at least one satellite a year.

Drawing heavily on the PSLV, early concepts for the GSLV borrowed the six strap-on boosters and first two stages of the PSLV's core vehicle. A later design suggested replacing the solid strap-on boosters with four liquid units similar to the second stage of the core vehicle. The third stage was to incorporate an indigenous liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen engine with a thrust of approximately 12 metric tons. Component development for this engine was already underway in the late 1980's, and subscale development was still on-going in 1992 (References 70, 81, and 82).

However, in an attempt to maintain the GSLV development schedule which called for a first flight as early as 1997, India in 1992 contracted with Russia to buy a liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen engine (KVD-1/KVD-7.5) developed in the 1970's for the heavy-lift N-1 launch vehicle. The plan, which had been in negotiations since 1988 came under fire from the US which considered the transfer of such technology a violation of the Missile Technology Control Regime. Eventually, a compromise was reached which allowed the Russian Federation to supply a limited number of engines to India (seven) without the transfer of critical technologies. The first engine was delivered in 1996 for the planned inaugural GSLV mission in late 1997 or early 1998. Test firings of lower stage GSLV motors were underway in 1994 (References 83-96).

The GSLV is a three stage vehicle. The first stage is a 129 tonne solid propellant core motor with four liquid propellant strap-ons with 40 tonne propellant each. The second stage is a liquid propulsion system with 37.5 tonnes of propellant. The cryogenic upper stage has 12 tonnes of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.

The first flight of the GSLV in mid-2000 will carry the experimental GSAT-1, that is aimed at demonstrating advanced communication technologies. Even though the initial flight of the GSLV would be using a Russian cryogenic engine, the second or the third flight in 2001 or in 2002 would use the Indian-built CUSP (Cryogenic Upper Stage Project) engine.

The delivery to India of Russian cryogenic acceleration blocks (CAB) (the so-called cryogenic engines) and preparations for launching a GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) equipped with a CAB is a major joint project between India and Russia. It is expected in India that with the help of CABs they would be able to launch into a geosynchronous orbit effective loads of up to 2.5 tons and thereby join the narrow group of states (Russia, the US, France and China) with a similar potential in this field.

Under the initial contract signed in January 1991 the Soviet Union was not only to supply CAB to India as ready-made units, but also the know-how for their production in India. The second Russian-Indian contract concerning the GSLV project, signed in April 1992, provides for the delivery of equipment, assembly and testing of CAB ground support systems by Russia.

However, at the end of 1993, as Russia joined the Missile Technology Control Regime, the terms of the contract were revised and now it provides for the delivery to India of 7 operating CAB specimens without transferring the know-how for their production.

The contracts signed by the Russian State Committee for Space Exploration and the Indian Space Research Organisation [ISRO] were to be performed on the Russian side by the Salyut Design Bureau of the Khrunichev Research and Production Centre. Salyut opened its representative office in Madras, 100 km from the SHAR space launch grounds (Sriharikota Peninsula, Andhra-Pradesh), because the assembly, autonomous systems tests and comprehensive tests of CAB demanded permanent presence of Russian specialists, from 6 to 50 persons at a time.

For this project, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen and other compressed gases supply systems, an automated control system for the preparation and fuelling of CABs were developed and made in Russia. More than 80 railway freight cars of equipment were delivered to the SHAR Centre space-launch grounds by sea. In 1996 a CAB model was delivered; its transportation of which by air (AN-124) cost to India US$200,000. In 1998 the fuelling CAB model and the first of the seven flying blocks were delivered. Compressed gases supply and hydrogen purification systems were adjusted and subjected to autonomous testing, as well as fuelling and other automated control systems were adjusted both at the launching grounds and at the Centre for Liquid-Propelled Engine Systems (Mahendraghiri, Tamilnadu). For this purpose almost 160 Russian specialists were sent to India during 1998 for a term of up to 2 months and some 50 specialists for shorter terms.

At the SHAR launching grounds, autonomous systems tests were completed and the automated control system was adjusted. Comprehensive tests in mid-1999 were the final stage of preparatory work.

The repeatedly postponed launching of the GSLV with a cryogenic accelerating block was scheduled for September 1999. The launch was delayed through the fault of both parties: the Indians were unable to fulfil their part of work in time, while the Russian side had to face financial and economic difficulties.

Ground equipment delivered to the SHAR space center will be maintained for 20 years under the designer's supervision to be exercised by Salyut which is to provide additional supplies of units and systems under new contracts.

For the purpose of expanding satellite launch potentiality the Indian leadership resolved to build another launching complex on Sriharikota Peninsula which would cost several billion dollars. Leading Indian companies are competing to obtain a contract under this state order. The degree of possible participation of Russian enterprises in this project has not yet been defined and will depend on the success of the CAB contracts.

India would not be able to develop their own cryogenic engine before 2005. In the opinion of Indian scientists, necessary conditions for the successful implementation of the project are available. According to the director of the Centre for Liquid-Propelled Engine Systems (Indian CAB development head organisation), they have completed design of a 7.5 ton engine and signed a contract for its manufacture with Indian companies, Godrej and Machine Tools and Reconditioning (MTAR).

In addition, the work is in progress on the creation of an infrastructure for servicing cryogenic engine-propelled rocket launches. For instance, since August 1996, ISRO has been producing cryogenic rocket fuel at a plant built with the assistance of Germany in Mahendraghiri (Tamilnadu), with a capacity of up to 8,000 litres of liquid oxygen, 5,500 litres of hydrogen and 2,500 litres of nitrogen; construction of testing grounds has been started there also. Furthermore, India has already built basic facilities for testing the turbine pump and engine control system. In the opinion of ISRO specialists, their CAB will be similar to Russian engines in terms of technical characteristics, but will be lighter and more powerful.

At the same time, CAB manufacturers faced certain difficulties. In particular, the low quality and insufficient supplies of the necessary aluminum and scandium alloys and of other special alloys will bring the engine's load capacity down to 1,000 kg instead of the planned 2,500 kg. In the absence of know-how for the so-called "wafer structure" and special equipment for large-diameter casing welding, the Indian side has to purchase containers for CABs from the French company Arianespace.


70. Annual Report, ISRO Headquarters, Department of Space, Government of India, 1989 and previous years.

71. "Indian Launch Vehicle Accident Inquiry Focuses on Initial Stage Burn Sequence", Aviation Week and Space Technology, 24 October 1988, p. 47.

72. H.P. Mama, "India's Rocket Propellant Developments", Spaceflight , January 1995, p. 32.

73. Press release, Indian Space Research Organization, Department of Space, PPR:D:65:93, 22 September 1993.

74. A. Lawler and V. Raghuvanshi, "India's Rocket Effort Falters", Space News, 27 September - 3 October 1993, pp.1, 28.

75. S. Verma, 'Software Error Blamed for Crash of Indian Rocket", ~1, New Delhi, 3 January 1994.

76. C. Covault, "India Launches New Booster", Aviation Week and Space Technolony, 24 October 1994, p. 24.

77. V. Raghuvanshi, "India Sets Sights on Launch Market as PSLV Flight Succeeds", October 1994, p. 9.

78. All-lndia Radio, New Delhi, 29 October 1994.

79. All-lndia Doordarshan Television, New Delhi, 7 December 1994.

80. C. Lardier and V. Raghuvanshi, "Le PSLV Interesse Les Militaires Indiens", Air & Cosmos, 28 October1994, p. 35.

81. T. Pirard, "India Develops Cryogenic Engine", Spaceflight, February 1988, p. 54.

82. All-lndia Radio, 31 August 1992.

83. "GLAVKOSMOS Sternly Rebukes U.S. Allegations As Protectionist", European Space Report, 16 July 1992, pp. 1-2.

84. A. Lawler, "India's Plan To Buy Russian Stage Draws U.S. Protests", Space News, 27 April - 3 May 1992, p.36.

85. Krasnaya Zvezda, 16 June 1992, p. 2.

86. Izvestlya, 21 April 1992, p. 5.

87. "Russian Sale of Rocket Engine To India", U.S. Department of State public release, 11 May 1992.

88. ITAR-TASS, Moscow, 25 June 1992.

89. V. Raghuvanshi, "Yeltsin: Cryogenic Rocket Deal Is Irrevocable", Space News, 1-7 February 1993, p. 6.

90. ITAR-TASS, Moscow, 26 June 1995.

91. "India Increases Order for Cryogenic Engines", Space News, 13-19 March 1995, p. 2.

92. V. Raghuvanshi, "Russia, India Discuss Cryogenic Contract", Space News, 15-28 November 1993, p. 6.

93. A. Lawler and V. Raghuvanshi, "U.S. Sanctions Against Russia, India To Expire", Space News, 2-8 May 1994, pp. 3, 28.

94. V. Naumov, "Fate of Cosmic Deal", Rosslysklye Vesti , 4 January 1994, p. 6.

95. V. Raghuvanshi, "Indian Officials Debate Indigenous Cryogenic Effort", Space News, 2-8 August 1993,p. 1 7.

96. "U.S., Russia Settle Export Disagreement", Aviation Week and Space Technology, 26 July 1993, p. 27.

Sources and Resources

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