BENGALURU: An Indian rocket carrying a powerful earth observation satellite failed to fire fully on Thursday, the state-run space agency said, in a setback for the country’s space programme.
The satellite, meant for quick monitoring of natural disasters such as cyclones, cloudbursts and thunderstorms, was launched on a geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV) at 0013 GMT, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in southern India.
But while the liftoff was smooth, the rocket failed in its final phase, the Indian Space Research Organisation said.
“Performance of first and second stages was normal. However, Cryogenic Upper Stage ignition did not happen due to technical anomaly. The mission couldn’t be accomplished as intended,” ISRO said.
It did not say what happened to the GSLV spacecraft and the EOS-03 satellite it was meant to place in a geostationary orbit nearly 36,000km (22,500 miles) above the equator.
Scientists had mounted a large telescope on the satellite to look down on the Indian subcontinent.
Jonathan McDowell, a U.S.-based astronomer, said the satellite and the rocket probably fell into the Andaman Sea, west of Thailand.
India has built a reputation as a maker of earth imaging satellites and the ability to launch them into low orbits at a fraction of the cost of Western agencies.
But over the past several years, it has moved into the more lucrative area of launching heavier geostationary satellites that are used for communications and meteorology.