India’s national space agency has successfully launched their final GSLV MK.3 test mission deploying the GSAT-19 communications satellite. The rocket’s first operational mission, scheduled for January 2019, will launch the country’s second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2.
“India has achieved [a] significant milestone with our heaviest launcher lifting off the heaviest satellite from Indian soil,” said ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan. “The launch vehicle has precisely placed the satellite in its intended orbit. I congratulate [the] entire ISRO team for this achievement.”
The GSLV MK.3 rocket lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 11:38 UTC (17:08 local time) on November 14. Approximately 17 minutes later, the 3424-kilogram GSAT-19 satellite was injected into its Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit. In a press release published on the ISRO website, officials confirmed that the agency’s Master Control Facility in Hassan had successfully acquired a signal from the satellite.
The Chandrayaan-2 is currently scheduled to be launched aboard a GSLV MK.3, India’s most powerful launch vehicle on January 3, 2019. The payload was developed by the India Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and is comprised of a lunar orbiter, lander and rover.
The mission profile calls for a soft landing between two craters (Manzinus C and Simpelius N) at a latitude of approximately 70° south. Should it be successful, it will be the first lunar mission to land a rover near to the Moon’s south pole.
The primary mission for the Chandrayaan-2 lander and rover is expected to be between 14 and 15 days. The orbiter is expected to remain operational for at least one year.