India has successfully launched its first rocket using domestically produced booster technology after several previous missions had failed.
The Indian-made cryogenically-powered rocket blasted off from the southern spaceport of Sriharikota on Sunday, allowing the country to take another step forward in its ambitious space programme.
The 415-tonne rocket deployed a two-tonne advanced communications satellite about 17 minutes after blast-off, said Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman Dr K. Radhakrishnan.
“I am extremely proud and happy to say that Team ISRO has done it,” Radhakrishnan announced at mission control in Andhra Pradesh state, sparking a roar of applause from colleagues.
“Team ISRO and the project directors all have put their heart and soul in making this proud moment for the country,” he said.
India has for years been trying to develop its own cryogenic rocket engines that are designed to put heavier satellites into high orbits, about 22,000 miles from Earth.
The technology has only been successfully developed by a handful of countries including the United States, Russia, France, Japan and China as well as the European Space Agency.
India’s project has had to overcome a string of mishaps, including an aborted launch in August last year several hours before lift-off after fuel was found to be leaking from one of the rocket’s engines.
The first India-built rocket crashed into the Bay of Bengal just minutes after take-off in April 2010 after the cryogenic engines failed to ignite.
“If we succeed this time, India will join a select club of space-faring nations with indigenous cryogenic engine capability to launch above two-tonne class satellites,” ISRO director Deviprasad Karnik told AFP before the launch.
“The twin purpose of this launch mission is to flight-test once again our own cryogenic engine and put into the geostationary orbit a heavy communication satellite,” Karnik added.