Successful static testing of Solid Propellant Booster Rocket Stage S200 for GSLV Mk III Launch Vehicle

Indian Space Research Organisation successfully conducted the static test of its largest solid booster S200 at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota today (January 24, 2010). The successful test of S200 makes it the third largest solid booster in the world, next to the RSRM solid booster of Space Shuttle and P230 solid booster of ARIANE-5. The S200 solid booster will form the strap-on stage for the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV-Mk III) which is currently under advanced stage of development for launching 4 ton class of communication satellites.

S200 solid booster contains 200 tonnes of solid propellant in three segments. The motor measures 22 meter long and 3.2 meter in diameter. The design, development and successful realisation of S200 solid booster were a pure indigenous effort involving Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram and Satish Shawan Space Centre (SDSC) at Sriharikota with the participation of Indian Industries. The S200 solid booster derived its heritage from the solid boosters developed earlier for the ISRO launch vehicle programme. The preparation and casting of S200 solid booster segments were carried out at the newly established Solid Propellant Plant (SPP) at SDSC, Sriharikota.

During the test, the S200 booster was fired for 130 seconds and generated a peak thrust of about 500 tonnes. The performance of the booster was exactly as predicted. Nearly 600 health parameters were monitored during the test and the initial data indicates normal performance.

Todays successful test of S200 is a major milestone in the solid rocket motor programme of ISRO and a vital step in the development of GSLV Mk III.

Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre Conducts a Series of Sounding Rocket Launches to Study the Annular Solar Eclipse

The longest annular solar eclipse of this millennium occurred today (January 15, 2010). The eclipse was well visible in the southern parts of the country. On this unique occasion, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram successfully launched a total of eleven Rohini series of indigenous Sounding Rockets from TERLS, Thumba and Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota, to investigate the effects of the solar eclipse on the atmosphere. All the payloads (scientific instruments) of the rockets were developed in-house by VSSC.

Yesterday (January 14, 2010), two Rohini sounding rockets of the type RH 300 Mk II were launched at 12:20 pm and 1:05 pm respectively. This was followed by two RH 200 launches at 1:07 pm and 3 pm. Following the same pattern, another four launches were carried out today. Later, one more sounding rocket of RH 300 Mk II type was launched at 4 pm today. Two larger Rohini rockets of the series RH 560 MK II were also launched from SDSC, one each yesterday and today, which had a peak altitude of 548 km.

Today at around IST 1:14 pm, the eclipse passed close to TERLS with 91% obscuration. The obscuration of Sun during the eclipse was about 11 min 08 sec. The maximum obscuration occurred around 1:15 pm. All the sounding rocket launches were conducted to study the effects of the annular solar eclipse on the atmospheric structure and dynamics.

Many scientifically interesting phenomena occur in the diurnal equatorial atmosphere. Equatorial Electrojet (EEJ), Equatorial Ionization Anomaly (EIA) and Equatorial Temperature and Wind Anomaly (ETWA) are examples of such phenomena. When solar eclipse occurs, there will be a sudden cut-off of solar radiation. This cut-off will affect the atmospheric structure and dynamics and there will be a large reduction in ionization and temperature. Todays eclipse offered a unique opportunity to scientists to investigate the effects of fast varying solar flux on the photochemistry and electrodynamics of the different atmospheric regions, especially the equatorial mesopause and ionosphere-thermosphere regions.

The main payload instruments that flew in the sounding rockets during these experiments are:

  • Langmuir Probes and Electric Field Probes to study the characteristics of E-region plasma waves and generation process associated with sub-meter waves in relation to plasma temperature.
  • Trimethyl Aluminum Experiment (TMA) to derive neutral winds using TMA trails, ground based photography and a chain of magnetometers.
  • Electron density and Neutral Wind (ENWi) Probe consisting of a velocity probe and a Langmuir probe, for measurement of ionospheric E-region neutral winds, electron density and irregularity strength.

  • Earths Atmospheric Composition Explorer (EACE) – to make very fast measurements on the neutral atmospheric composition. The measurements were taken in a scanning mode during the ascent and descent of the rocket flights during and after the eclipse.
  • Chaff Experiment to investigate the temperature and horizontal wind perturbations in the middle atmosphere.

Results of these experiments will coordinate ground-based eclipse observations with in situ space measurements. Interpretation of eclipse data together with space data is expected to give new insights to the earlier eclipse observations.

This was the first ISRO effort to realise sounding rocket systems for a record 11 flights during a short period of two days from TERLS and SDSC.

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