0426 GMT (11:26 p.m. EST on Wed.)
ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan says the CARE module has splashed down as expected in the Bay of Bengal, concluding a successful first test flight of the GSLV Mk. 3.
0413 GMT (11:13 p.m. EST on Wed.)
The capsule is now descending under its main parachute, according to ISRO. Splashdown is targeted about 1,000 miles downrange from the launch site, or nearly 400 miles from Port Blair in the Andaman Islands.
0410 GMT (11:10 p.m. EST on Wed.)
The CARE module has started its parachute deployment sequence, ISRO says, indicating it has survived the period of peak heating.
0408 GMT (11:08 p.m. EST on Wed.)
T+plus 8 minutes. The CARE crew module, fitted with thrusters to control the first phase of its descent, has started its re-entry sequence. It carries a heat shield to protect it from temperatures of near 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
0405 GMT (11:05 p.m. EST on Wed.)
T+plus 5 minutes, 45 seconds. ISRO says the Vikas engines have shut down and the L110 first stage has separated. And the CARE prototype crew module has been released for its descent back to Earth.
0404 GMT (11:04 p.m. EST on Wed.)
T+plus 4 minutes. The L110 core stage is performing as expected.
0402 GMT (11:02 p.m. EST on Wed.)
T+plus 2 minutes, 40 seconds. Both solid rocket boosters have separated as planned, ISRO says.
0402 GMT (11:02 p.m. EST on Wed.)
T+plus 2 minutes. The twin Vikas engines on the core stage have ignited.
0401 GMT (11:01 p.m. EST on Wed.)
T+plus 60 seconds. With twin boosters producing 2 million pounds of thrust, the 14-story rocket has broken the speed of sound and is flying southeast from Sriharikota on a flight azimuth of 120 degrees.
0400 GMT (11:00 p.m. EST on Wed.)
Liftoff of the GSLV Mk. 3, India's biggest-ever rocket!
0359 GMT (10:59 p.m. EST on Wed.)
T-minus 60 seconds and counting. The rocket's self-destruct system, ignition systems and separation charges are being armed for liftoff. The launch pad's water system will be activated in the final seconds before launch to suppress acoustic energy from ignition of the rocket's two large solid rocket boosters.
0357 GMT (10:57 p.m. EST on Wed.)
T-minus 3 minutes and counting. Pyrotechnic batteries have been activated, and on-board computers are in flight mode.
0355 GMT (10:55 p.m. EST on Wed.)
T-minus 5 minutes and counting. The final flight program has been loaded into the GSLV Mk. 3 rocket, and systems have been transitioned to internal battery power.
0352 GMT (10:52 p.m. EST on Wed.)
T-minus 8 minutes and counting. Data recorders are being activated now.
0351 GMT (10:51 p.m. EST on Wed.)
T-minus 9 minutes and counting. The dummy cryogenic stage is configured for liftoff, and the automated countdown sequence is underway.
0350 GMT (10:50 p.m. EST on Wed.)
T-minus 10 minutes and counting. The automated countdown sequence begins soon.
0349 GMT (10:49 p.m. EST on Wed.)
"The launch operation sequence of the LVM-3X/CARE mission is authorized," says the mission director.
0348 GMT (10:48 p.m. EST on Wed.)
T-minus 12 minutes and counting. The CARE module is reported ready for liftoff.
0347 GMT (10:47 p.m. EST on Wed.)
T-minus 13 minutes and counting. The flight of the GSLV Mk. 3 and the CARE landing capsule will take about 19 minutes from liftoff from India's east coast to splashdown near the Andaman Islands. The vehicle will reach a top speed of nearly 12,000 mph and a peak altitude of 78 miles.
0346 GMT (10:46 p.m. EST on Wed.)
T-minus 14 minutes and counting. Ground facilities are reported ready for liftoff.
0345 GMT (10:45 p.m. EST on Wed.)
T-minus 15 minutes and counting. The GSLV Mk. 3 vehicle director confirms the launcher is ready for today's test flight.
0340 GMT (10:40 p.m. EST on Wed.)
T-minus 20 minutes and counting. There are no problems reported in the countdown as the GSLV Mk. 3 launch team goes through their preflight checklist. The rocket is already full of propellant, with pre-packed solid fuel in the strap-on boosters, hypergolic propellant in the two-engine core, and gaseous nitrogen pumped aboard the dummy upper stage to simulate tanks full of cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to be used on future missions.
0330 GMT (10:30 p.m. EST on Wed.)
T-minus 30 minutes and counting. The ISRO webcast is beginning now.
0300 GMT (10:00 p.m. EST on Wed.)
One hour until launch. The official ISRO webcast of the countdown and liftoff begins in about 30 minutes.
0200 GMT (9:00 p.m. EST on Wed.)
Two hours until launch.
The GSLV Mk. 3 rocket -- also called the LVM-3 -- is fueled for liftoff at 0400 GMT Thursday (11 p.m. EST Wednesday) from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Center on Sriharikota Island along India's east coast.
The launch vehicle is an all-new design with powerful solid rocket boosters and a core stage powered by two Vikas engines. The boosters are the second-most powerful solid rocket motors in operation after the strap-on rockets flying on Europe's Ariane 5 rocket.
The Vikas engines on the rocket's L110 core stage burn hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide propellants.
The rocket's twin strap-on S200 solid rocket boosters will fire at liftoff to propel the 630-metric ton (695-ton) launcher away from the space center. It will fly southeast from the launch site, passing the speed of sound in less than a minute as the boosters ramp up to more than 2 million pounds of total thrust.
The GSLV Mk. 3's liquid-fueled Vikas engines will ignite at T+plus 1 minute, 55 seconds at an altitude of nearly 27 miles (43 kilometers). The S200 solid rocket boosters will consume their pre-packed propellant a few seconds later before jettisoning from the launcher at T+plus 2 minutes, 29 seconds.
The rocket's 5-meter (16.4-foot) diameter payload fairing will separate at an altitude of 114 kilometers (71 miles) at T+plus 3 minutes, 52 seconds. The liquid-fueled core stage will switch off at T+plus 5 minutes, 17 seconds after reaching a top speed of nearly 12,000 mph (about 5.3 kilometers per second).
Three seconds later, the first stage will release from the GSLV Mk. 3's upper stage, which is flying in an inactive configuration on today's launch. On future missions, the stage will have an engine fueled by super-cold liquid hydrogen to send satellites into orbit.
The passenger on today's mission -- an 8,000-pound landing craft -- will separate from the launch vehicle at T+plus 5 minutes, 25 seconds.
The Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment, or CARE, will descend back to Earth from a peak altitude of 78 miles (126 kilometers). After its heat shield weathers temperatures near 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the spacecraft will deploy a series of parachutes to slow it down before splashdown in the Bay of Bengal nearly 1,000 miles downrange from the launch site.
A 100-foot-diameter main parachute will unfurl to slow down the capsule before it hits the ocean about 19 minutes after liftoff. The Indian Coast Guard will recover the craft and return to land for inspections.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2014
Indian engineers are counting down to a test flight Thursday of a next-generation launcher to verify the performance of two powerful solid rocket motors, a twin-engine core booster and a prototype capsule designed for India's nascent human spaceflight program.
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