Hopes dashed

Published: Friday 15 October 1993

The successful completion of all launch preparations for the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) did much to dispel the shadow of gloom in the Indian space establishment, cast in July by the US forcing Russia to withhold transfer of cryogenic technology to India.

In a more cheerful mood than he has been in the last two months, Indian Space Research Organisation chairperson U R Rao told Down To Earth in Bangalore the progress India had made would make space launching commercially viable, to the extent of being 33 per cent cheaper than that of the US and European countries.

According to Rao, while the PSLV will carry the heaviest payload lifted by any Indian launch vehicle, it successfully incorporated many technologies that ISRO has developed for the geostationary launch vehicle, which is intended to be India's "workhorse launcher", capable of carrying payloads of upto 2,000 kg. ISRO officials proudly say that 87 per cent of the components and technologies used in building the PSLV is indigenous.

Interestingly, even Rao was uncertain about the future of the cryogenic deal with Russia. He admitted that though the contract for the transfer between the two countries still stands intact, "what is going to happen in the future could well be an entirely different matter".

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