India successfully launches Chandrayaan-2

The new colonial movement: India yesterday successfully launched its lunar orbiter/lander/rover Chandrayaan-2 into orbit.

India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV MkIII-M1, successfully launched the 3840 kg Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into an earth orbit today (July 22, 2019). The spacecraft is now revolving round the earth with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 169.7 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 45,475 km. Today’s flight marks the first operational flight of the GSLV Mk III.

They will slowly raise the spacecraft’s apogee over the next two months to bring it into the Moon’s gravitational sphere of influence, when they will begin lowering the orbit leading to a separation of the lander/rover for a September 7 landing near the Moon’s south pole.

This was the third launch of the upgraded GSLV Mark III. With this launch India now has an operational rocket it can use to launch its astronauts into space in 2022.

The leaders in the 2019 launch race:

9 China
9 Russia
8 SpaceX
5 Europe (Arianespace)
4 India

The U.S. continues to lead in the national rankings, 14 to 9.

India’s manned space program

This short article gives us a short but detailed look at India’s plans for manned space, describing both the first test flight of a engineering version of their manned capsule in a little more than a month and the program’s overall goals.

The test flight:

“The first test trial, that of the crew module, will be undertaken in November last week or December first week on the GSLV MK-III,” [Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan told Deccan Herald.] The crew module will be injected into orbit by the GSLV at a height of 110-120 km in space from where it will fall towards the earth and be recovered from sea. Isro will examine how the crew module and thermal shield around it handle the heat and temperatures during re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere.

Their eventual goal is to put two astronauts in orbit for seven days. To do that they will first have to complete at least four to six test launches of their new GSLV MK-III rocket, which has only completed one successful launch after literally two decades of failures. If successful, the test flight described above will be GSLV’s second successful launch.

Note that because of poor writing the article gives the improper impression that the test flight will be manned. It will not. Also, the article states incorrectly that the space shuttle Columbia broke up during re-entry because “the thermal heat shields could not withstand the heat.” This is false. The heat shield would have worked fine, as it had done on numerous previous launches, except that there were gaping holes in it that were put there by pieces of foam during launch.