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India’s heaviest satellite GSLV MkIII set for launch today

The over 25-hour countdown for the launch of India’s heavy-lift rocket GSLV MkIII, carrying communication satellite GSAT-19, from the space port of Sriharikota began on Sunday, ISRO said.

The GSLV MkIII-D1 rocket is scheduled for lift off at 5.28 pm on Monday from the second launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, around 120 km from here.

“The 25-and-half hour countdown for the launch of GSLV-MkIII-D1, carrying the 3,136 kg GSAT-19 satellite, commenced at 3.58 pm, soon after the Mission Readiness Review Committee and Launch Authorisation Board gave the clearance,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.

ISRO Chairman A S Kiran Kumar said the mission is important as “it was the heaviest ever rocket and satellite to be launched from the country”.

“All activities for the launch of GSLV Mk III-D1 and GSAT-19 mission is going on. Tomorrow, we are expecting to launch at 5.28 pm,” he told reporters at the airport here.

On the significance of the launch for ISRO, he said, “It is an important event as we are putting our communication satellite from our own soil”.

Till now, ISRO had to depend on foreign launchers for communication satellites weighing more than 2,300 kg. The GSLV MkIII-D1 is capable of lifting payloads of up to 4,000 kg into the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) and 10,000 kg into the Low Earth Orbit.

In Monday’s mission, the vehicle is scheduled to launch the GSAT-19 into the GTO at 16.20 minutes after lift-off.

Earlier, ISRO had launched the 3,404 kg GSAT-18 communication satellite from Ariane, French Guiana.

In 2014, the space agency successfully undertook the first experimental flight of the GSLV MkIII from Sriharikota.

The vehicle in a two-stage flight (with a non-functional cryogenic upper stage) carried the Crew Module Atmospheric Re-Entry Experiment to the intended height of 126 km and re-entered the atmosphere safely.

The GSLV-Mk III-D1 is a three-stage vehicle with indigenous cryogenic upper stage engine designed to carry heavier communication satellites into the GTO.

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