India launches unmanned crew module into outer space with heaviest rocket

Updated: 2014-12-18 14:35


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NEW DELHI -- India on Thursday successfully launched its heaviest rocket with an experimental crew module from the spaceport of Sriharikota in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, said Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

At 9.30 a.m. local time, the 630-ton Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mark III) standing 43.43-meter tall blasted from launch pad holds with a one-way ticket, as its designed life is just around five minutes.

Just over five minutes into the flight, the rocket ejected the giant cupcake-shaped 3.7-ton crew module at an altitude of 126 km.

The mission is to test the rocket's atmospheric flight stability powered by two engines with around 4-ton luggage, as well as to study the re-entry characteristics of the crew module, called Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment, its aero braking and validation of its end-to-end parachute system.

The module is designed to be of the size of a small bedroom and can accommodate two to three people. It descended towards Earth after its ejection at an altitude of 126 km and its speed was remotely controlled by ISRO officials by its on-board motors.

When the module reaches an altitude of 80 km above Earth, the on-board thrusters would be shut off.

The module would re-enter Earth's atmosphere at a great speed and the outer temperature touching around 1,600 degrees centigrade.

At an altitude of around 15 km, the module's apex cover would separate followed by the deployment of the parachutes so as to soft crash in Bay of Bengal near Andaman and Nicobar Islands, from where the crew module would begin its multi-modal and multi-state journey.