Launch vehicle GSLV Mk. II (GSLV-D3)
Launch site Satish Dhawan Space Centre, India
Date/Time 2010-04-15 1057 UTC
Description third stage failure
Cause Failure of upper stage engine's turbo pump
Payload GSAT 4
Desired orbit geosynchronous transfer orbit

The Indian Space Research Organisation said in a statement that the third developmental flight of India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D3), which was to test the indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS), failed because of a problem with the upper stage engine's turbo pump.

ISRO said it had instituted a two-tier process to carry out an in-depth analysis of the flight performance, identify the causes of failure and recommend corrective measures. The Failure Analysis Committee comprising multi-disciplinary experts completed the analysis and its findings were further reviewed by a National Group of Eminent Experts. ISRO summarised their findings in a statement as follows:

"Following a smooth countdown, the lift-off took place at 1627 hrs (IST) [1057 UTC] as planned. All four liquid strap-on stages (L40), solid core stage (S139), liquid second stage (GS2) functioned normally.

"The vehicle performance was normal up to the burn-out of GS-2, that is, 293 seconds from lift-off. Altitude, velocity, flight path angle and acceleration profile closely followed the pre-flight predictions. All onboard real time decision-based events were as expected and as per pre-flight simulations.

"The navigation, guidance and control systems using indigenous onboard computer Vikram 1601 as well as the advanced telemetry system functioned flawlessly. The composite payload fairing of 4 metre diameter inducted first time in this flight, also performed as expected. Performance of all other systems like engine gimbal control systems and stage auxiliary systems was normal.

"The initial conditions required for the start of the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) were attained as expected and the CUS start sequence got initiated as planned at 294.06 seconds from lift-off.

"Ignition of the CUS Main Engine and two Steering Engines have been confirmed as normal, as observed from the vehicle acceleration and different parameters of CUS measured during the flight. Vehicle acceleration was comparable with that of earlier GSLV flights up to 2.2 seconds from start of CUS. However, the thrust build up did not progress as expected due to non-availability of liquid hydrogen (LH2) supply to the thrust chamber of the Main Engine.

"The above failure is attributed to the anomalous stopping of Fuel Booster Turbo Pump (FBTP). The start-up of FBTP was normal. It reached a maximum speed of 34,800 rpm and continued to function as predicted after the start of CUS. However, the speed of FBTP started dipping after 0.9 seconds and it stopped within the next 0.6 seconds.

"Two plausible scenarios have been identified for the failure of FBTP, namely, (a) gripping at one of the seal location and seizure of rotor and (b) rupture of turbine casing caused probably due to excessive pressure rise and thermal stresses. A series of confirmatory ground tests are planned.

"After incorporating necessary corrective measures, the flight testing of Indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage on GSLV is targeted within a year.

"In the meantime, the next two GSLVs would fly with the available Russian Cryogenic Stages."

Last updated: 11 July 2010

Launch Failures Chronology