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Space Transportation Technology

Indian Launch Vehicle Explodes After Lift-Off 227

Posted by timothy
from the christmas-setback dept.
Indian communications satellite GSAT-5P was destroyed by the explosion of its launch vehicle, the Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle. The GSLV malfunctioned while still in its first phase of its Christmas launch, after less than a minute of flight. YouTube has a video of the explosion, taken from TV9 Kannada.
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Indian Launch Vehicle Explodes After Lift-Off

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  • Video in English (Score:5, Informative)

    by recoiledsnake (879048) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @01:25PM (#34665974)

    A much better video in English here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oH-0OH0MI2Y [youtube.com]

    • Re:Video in English (Score:5, Informative)

      by Hynee (774168) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @01:58PM (#34666134) Homepage
      So it looks like the GSLV yawed beyond limits, upper stages (I think stage 3 plus payload) broke off (0:34 [youtube.com] on video), then stage 1+2 kept going, initially with decreased yaw (it got knocked back on course upon stage 3 separation), but then increasing yaw until 0:45 [youtube.com] when stage 2 broke away from stage 1 and the strap-ons broke off too.
      The orange cloud at 0:45 should be the hypergolics in the strap-on boosters, I believe that's what caused the orange cloud in the Challenger disaster.
      According to the wiki article on the GSLV's predecessor [wikipedia.org] the first stage injects chemicals (aqueous strontium perchlorate solution) into the nozzle to control yaw. I wonder if this has been problematic in the past?
      • by Nirvelli (851945)
        At one point the guy on the phone mentioned a plumbing problem with the last rocket which lead to them detonating it (for safety reasons).
        So the injected chemical problem makes sense.
        • by Nirvelli (851945)
          Yeah, from the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org]:

          A defective propellant regulator of the fourth strap-on motor caused asymmetric thrust on the vehicle, steering it off course and consequently the self destruct feature was deployed as a safety measure.

          • by Hynee (774168)
            The Sr perchlorate injectors of the PSLV (the predecessor to GSLV) go into the 1st stage main engine (the solid), but those plumbing problems were with the GSLV's strap-ons. The PSLV had solid strap-ons, so I would guess they could not steer. The GSLV has liquid strap-ons, so I would guess they don't bother steering the main engine at all.
            I didn't read this before my original post, but the GSAT-5P wiki article [wikipedia.org] and linked reference [hindustantimes.com] say that the strap-ons stopped responding to commands, and the vehicle was d
      • It looks like a pretty ordinary hard-over failure of the control system, mitigated by what the other engines could to and aerodynamic stability. Then it broke up. Whatever happened after that is almost random.

      • by Xyrus (755017)

        It doesn't take much to shred a rocket really. You can even shred model rockets if you don't balance them correctly.

    • But without the red arrow and the circle I'd never be able to spot the explosion! The music was a nice touch too.
  • Fireworks! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nickovs (115935) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @01:26PM (#34665984)

    Pretty!!! That's one expensive fireworks display that they put on for Christmas!

    Seriously though, the GSLV seems to have a pretty poor success rate; this is the third of five operational launches to fail.

    • Re:Fireworks! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @01:54PM (#34666114) Homepage

      Seriously though, the GSLV seems to have a pretty poor success rate; this is the third of five operational launches to fail.

      It is their most ambitious booster to date, and AFAIK, it has more 'indigenous' technology than previous systems. If the Indians are like everybody else, they're gonna go boom for a while.

      It is Rocket Science.

  • by fotbr (855184) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @01:31PM (#34666022) Journal

    And completely misses the fact that several seconds before the first stage goes up in a fireball, the top of the rocket falls off and collides with the first stage.

    Someone forgot to apply the indian version of lok-tite to some mating ring bolts. :)

    • by OverlordQ (264228)

      And completely misses the fact that several seconds before the first stage goes up in a fireball, the top of the rocket falls off and collides with the first stage.

      It fell off because the rocket started pitching over . . . likely due to the engine.

      • by SETIGuy (33768)

        And completely misses the fact that several seconds before the first stage goes up in a fireball, the top of the rocket falls off and collides with the first stage.

        It fell off because the rocket started pitching over . . . likely due to the engine.

        Maybe. It's hard to tell from the video. Another possibility is a structural or airframe failure near max-Q. The vehicle is noticeably bent. Whether it is bent because it is not heading into the relative airflow, or if the bend it what is causing it to pitch away from the direction of motion, it's hard to say.

    • by Sanat (702) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @01:54PM (#34666116)

      Maybe they did not realize the gravity of the situation.

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @01:59PM (#34666144) Homepage

      And completely misses the fact that several seconds before the first stage goes up in a fireball, the top of the rocket falls off and collides with the first stage.

      Someone forgot to apply the indian version of lok-tite to some mating ring bolts. :)

      More likely the explosive bolts exploded a wee bit early....

      From what I've been able to gather from the commentary and looking at the clip a bunch of times, it looks like it lost attitudinal control first, then the upper stage failed. Can't be sure exactly when the RSO blew the rocket up, but I think it occurs much later in the sequence when it's clear that the booster failed. Typically an errant booster is given a bit of time to fall apart before it's blown up as the destruct sequence is manual and one would like to get some video of what failed before everything turns into a bunch of expensive fireworks.

      • by ignavus (213578)

        it looks like it lost attitudinal control first

        I often blow up too when I lose attitudinal control.

    • The ISRO mentions a "large altitude error"; I'm no rocket scientist, but if I had to guess I'd say that the first stage stopped thrusting evenly, causing the GSLV to veer off course and the errant rocket was destroyed for safety reasons. Or the resulting torque from the offset thrust vector tore the second stage off.

      There are also reports of locals finding hunks of charred reindeer throughout the region, but I'd chalk that up to coincidence.

    • by Dunbal (464142) *

      They're not designed to fly sideways. Can't say that American rockets fare any better in those circumstances.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25, 2010 @01:58PM (#34666138)

    Just sayin'

    • by gtall (79522)

      Hello! Hmmm...you say it blew up. Here's what you could try:

      1. Could you try rebooting? Oh, it's already blown up.

      2. How about reinstalling your software? Ah, no machine left to reinstall into.

      3. Please contact your manufacturer. You may have to mail in the remains.

    • And they might even understand what they're saying! Though, I doubt that will increase the quality a lot.

    • by DukeLinux (644551)
      Perhaps they should consider outsourcing to the United States. Just sayin'..............
  • Viewing the video, I had the impression that the first stage was unable to keep the rocket straight, which caused a high lateral pressure on the rocket, especially at the top. The top was then taken off by this lateral wind. For a long time the rocket kept the same inclination angle but was progressively destroyed.
    So the destruction appears to have been caused by a power drop in the first stage, not by a direct explosion.

       

  • Not surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday December 25, 2010 @02:03PM (#34666174)

    My experience with teaching students from India is that they do great on the theory, but in the lab not watch out.

    • Re:Not surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25, 2010 @02:07PM (#34666184)

      My experience with teaching students from India is that they do great on the theory, but in the lab not watch out.

      And here we have a pompous ass who extrapolates his "teaching experience" to rocket launches. So, Mr. Pompous Ass, what about the dozens of past successful Indian launches? How does your "teaching theory" account for that, eh moron?

      • by Dunbal (464142) *

        That even pompous asses are right once in a while?

      • Re:Not surprising (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 25, 2010 @03:06PM (#34666448)

        People like to sling around implications of racism, but the fact is it has everything to do with culture.

        For example, consider the difference between students raised in Asia, and students of Asian decent raised in the west. The students raised in Asia (and not necessarily Asian themselves) cheat like hell because doing well in school is *extraordinary* important in Asia. Students who were raised in the west were not raised in this extreme pressure, and are on average more honest (or at least act more ashamed of their cheating).

        This phenomenon is well documented. Posting as AC, because people will undoubtedly attempt to slander this as "racist" as well.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Also posting as AC, for obvious reasons.

          Asians cheated like fucking crazy throughout grad school, and for the reasons described by parent. The thing is, in the west, there's a great deal of emphasis on honor, personal achievement, etc. In Asia, it's hugely about expectations, meeting them, and being successful.

    • by Hartree (191324)

      Odd. I've known quite a number of them who could build some quite impressive experimental set ups.

  • Why's it so hard to get this thing in orbit? I mean, it's not rocket scie.....wait a minute...

  • ...they need you.

  • by Hartree (191324)

    An amazing amount of India bashing in this discussion.

    Let's see what those evil Indians did to earn such wrath.

    Uh... They got jobs.

    Was it any of the reasonable criticisms of the Indian nation? (as all nations have things they can be criticised for)

    No, not really. Some of them are trotted out as insults, but what's the real reason for them being so hated? They got jobs.

    They had the unmitigated gall to go out and try to support themselves by manning call centers and doing IT work. Sometimes moving from where

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