NEW DELHI: India's largest rocket, which may carry humans to space some day, is expected to be launched today. The 640-ton GSLV Mk III rocket - as much as 200 full-grown Asian elephants or five Jumbo jets - will be on its maiden flight from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh at 5.28 pm. The 24-hour countdown has already started. For now, the rocket will carry a satellite. It is expected that one day -- in over 7 years -- it will carry astronauts to space.
Here are the 10 facts:
- The rocket was developed over 15 years at a cost ofR 300 crore. The "Monster Rocket" as it has been dubbed by scientists, is as high as a 13-storey building and can launch satellites as heavy as 4 tonnes (4,000 kg).
- Currently India has to take the help of foreign nations if she wants to launch communication satellites beyond 2.3 tons.Tomorrow, it will carry a 3,136 kg satellite. Not only will GSLV make India self-reliant, it will also open the way to attracting foreign customers.
- The rocket is powered by anindigenous cryogenic engine that uses liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as propellants.
- "The success of GSLV Mk III will usher a new era of our self- reliance in the context of launching our own four ton class of satellites for geosynchronous missions," said former ISRO Chairman Dr K Kasturirangan.
- The ISRO has asked the Centre forR 12,500 crore for its mission to put humans in space. If approved, the work is expected to take roughly seven years.
- The Indian space agency has already developed critical technologies for a human space mission. The space suit is ready and a crew module was tested in 2014.
- The space agency has suggested that the first person to fly into space from India could be a woman.
- So far, only Russia, USA and China have sent astronauts into space. The first man in space was Yuri Gagarin, who travelled in Russia's Vostok 1 spacecraft on April 12, 1961.
- The US sent a man in space the next month. On May 5, 1961, Alan B Shepard took off in the Freedom 7 spacecraft from Florida.
- The first Indian to fly into space was Squadron leader Rakesh Sharma. He went into space in 1984 as part of a joint programme by ISRO and the Soviet Intercosmos space programme.