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India today successfully launched its most powerful rocket, the GSLV Mark 3, for the first time.
The first orbital launch of India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk.III) marked a milestone in India’s space program, with the more powerful rocket allowing the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to begin launching heavier payloads aboard its own vehicles – both for spaceflight applications such as communications and in support of the country’s nascent manned space program.
Monday’s launch came two and a half years after the GSLV Mark III’s maiden flight, a successful suborbital test for which only the rocket’s lower stages were live. The test flight, conducted on 18 December 2014, carried a prototype crew capsule and also served to validate the rocket’s design and demonstrate the stage performance and operation of the rocket’s solid-fuel first stage and liquid-fuelled second stage.
This is India’s third launch this year, which amazingly ties them at this moment with Russia. This will change, as Russia hopes to resume Proton launches this week, but the fact both speaks well of India’s growing success in space and Russia’s continuing problems.