Rocket Carrying Largest Indian Communications Satellite Explodes 47 Seconds After Launch

One of the Christmas day stories getting little attention was the explosion of the rocket carrying what would have been the largest Indian telecommunications satellite. As BBC explains: "An Indian space rocket carrying the country's largest communications satellite has exploded shortly after launch. Live television coverage showed the rocket vanishing in a plume of smoke moments after lift-off from Sriharikota near the city of Chennai (Madras). The Indian Space Reserach Organisation said it believed the explosion was caused by an electronic failure." The satellite that would have been launched is the GSAT-5P: "GSAT-5P was a 2,310-kilogram (5,100 lb) spacecraft, which was built by the Indian Space Research Organisation based around the I-2K satellite bus. It was equipped with 36 transponders operating in the G/H band of the NATO-defined spectrum, or the C band of the older IEEE spectrum. Twelve of the transponders operated on extended frequencies within the band. GSAT-5P was expected to operate for at least 12 years, and would have been placed at a longitude of 55 degrees east." A video of the explosion is attached below. There is no evidence of foul play or less than gross incompetence at this point. It is also unclear if AIG was the company insuring the satellite and/or rocket. Lastly, to the best of our knowledge, this is one satellite incident that has not cost Phil Falcone hundreds of millions.

Some more from AP:

Television images showed the rocket exploding in smoke and fire just after it launched from the Sriharikota space center in Andhra Pradesh state. It was carrying a GSAT-5P communication satellite into orbit.

The vehicle developed an error 47 seconds after liftoff and lost command, leading to a higher angle in the flight, said K. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization.

"That caused a higher stress, breaking up the vehicle," Radhakrishnan told reporters.

In April, a similar rocket on a developmental flight plunged into the Bay of Bengal. The ISRO said its rotor seized and turbine casing ruptured, probably due to excessive pressure and thermal stresses.

Yashpal, a retired Indian scientist and independent commentator, said he was very disappointed by Saturday's failure, but other countries too have experienced such problems.

"I hope it's just one of those things," Yashpal, who uses one name, told reporters.

India is planning its first manned space flight in 2016.

An Indian satellite launched in 2008 to orbit the moon was abandoned last year after communication links snapped and scientists lost control of the satellite.

India is the fifth country after United States, Russia, China and France to enter the commercial satellite launch market.

The country has sought to convert its rise as an economic power — built on a thriving high-tech sector — into global clout in other areas.



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