IRNSS-1H: Gloom at ISRO After Rare Unsuccessful Satellite Launch

No handshakes or greetings, just silence over the failed launch mission of navigation satellite IRNSS-1H.

2 min read

It was by then apparent that ISRO’s tryst with successful launches, using its trusted workhorse PSLV, had taken a hit.

The occasion was bereft of any jubilation. No handshakes or greetings – a stoic silence as India's navigation satellite launch mission ended in a failure. This was the scene at the Mission Control Centre in the Satish Dhawan Space Centre of ISRO on 31 August as the mission to launch the 'IRNSS-1H' satellite ended unsuccessfully.

What had begun with cheerful claps by scientists for each successful stage of the PSLV-C39 mission turned into anxiety after the prolonged stationary blinking on the main monitors indicated a glitch.

There was even a palpable pause in the commentary of the live telecast seeing the sudden sombre mood at the Mission Control Centre after the polar rocket reached the crucial and final fourth stage.

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It was by then apparent that ISRO's tryst with successful launches, using its trusted workhorse PSLV, had taken a hit.

After the heat shield of the PSLV-C39 failed to get separated, ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar termed the mission as unsuccessful amid the pall of gloom descending over the centre.

Explaining the process, Kumar said: "A heat shield is used to protect the satellite. It has to separate and fall out (in the fourth stage). And once that happens, the satellite is released to get into the orbit" and that this did not happen.

The heat shield had to protect the satellite during its atmospheric phase of the rocket flight, another ISRO official told PTI.

The customary post-launch press conference, which is generally attended by several ISRO scientists, turned out to be a brief affair with Kumar and Satish Dhawan Space Centre Director P Kunhi Krishnan wrapping it up in about four minutes.

This was the first failure of an Indian space mission involving ISRO's workaholic Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle after 39 successful launches in a row.

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