In a setback, India’s attempt to launch its eighth regional navigation satellite failed on Thursday. The satellite IRNSS-1H didn’t come out of the heat shield as it should have, though the rocket’s lift off was as planned.
Describing the failed mission as a ‘mishap’, ISRO Chairman Kiran Kumar said the heat shield did not separate for the IRNSS-1H, a backup navigation satellite, to be put into orbit in the final leg of the launch sequence. As a result, the satellite got stuck in the fourth stage of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle–PSLV-C39.
“There was no problem in any of the stages. But the heat shield has to separate. And once that happens the satellite gets into the orbit. It got separated internally. But it’s enclosed within the heat shield in the fourth stage, ” ISRO Chairman Kiran Kumar said.
“We are getting into the details of what has happened,” he added.
IRNSS-1H was being sent to space to back up — and mostly replace — the functions of India’s first navigation satellite. IRNSS-1A was launched four years back. Indian Space Research Organisation had to quickly get two back-ups ready when all three rubidium atomic clocks on 1A failed around mid-2016. Mr. Kumar had earlier said 1H had atomic clocks that had been corrected and improved.
Between 2013 and 2016, ISRO put up seven IRNSS satellites to form the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, since called NavIC or Navigation with Indian Constellation.
Today’s setback is considered a rare failure in India’s space mission involving the PSLV, dubbed as ISRO’s workhorse, which has had a time-tested record of 39 consecutive successful launches, ever since its maiden flight failed 24 years ago.