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No Sabotage In PSLV Failure, It will Fly In November: Space Agency Chief

New Delhi:  The launch of India’s first private-sector manufactured satellite, the IRNSS-1H, failed last month because a tiny but vital equipment in the rocket had filed, space agency ISRO has said. But the failure has not put the workhorse PSLV out of action, nor has it eroded the “confidence of overseas partners,” ISRO chief Dr AS Kiran Kumar told NDTV.

The rocket will be ready to go again in November, when it will carry the observation satellite of the Cartosat series. “Some foreign satellites may also be flown,” said Dr Kumar.

Brushing away speculations of an internal sabotage on social media, the senior scientist said the same equipment had “worked perfectly 60 times” earlier.

The failed equipment in question is a pyro element or a small explosive device, the senior scientist said. Its failure stopped the PSLV rocket from shedding the heat shield in which the satellite was encased. In his first interview since the launch failure, Dr Kumar said the problem could be of workmanship.

“PSLV has no design issues and once a failure analysis report comes in, it should be ready to fly in November or December,” he added.

A heat shield is meant to protect a satellite from the heat generated by atmospheric friction during lift-off. Once a satellite is ready to be placed in orbit, the heat shield is expected to separate and fall off – which did not happen in this case.  

“This resulted in satellite separation occurring within the heat shield… resulting in the unsuccessful mission. Detailed analysis is under progress to identify the cause of the anomaly in the heat shield separation event,” the ISRO had said.

But the failure of the mission doesn’t mean that the PSLV, the workhorse of the space agency, will be grounded.

“Definitely PSLV will continue to be the workhorse,” Dr Kumar said. “In launch vehicle technology, no matter how many times you may have done it, one has to keep one’s fingers crossed because there are so many things that in principle can go wrong.”