India launches heaviest rocket, precursor to manned space mission
The Indian Space Research Organization said the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk-III X successfully launched the Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) mission from Sriharikota, the Indian space agency's launch center in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, on Thursday morning local time.
The 630-ton GSLV carried an indigenous capsule capable of carrying at least two astronauts into space.
ISRO said the capsule, taken above the earth's atmosphere by the rocket, and then sent back to earth, descended in a ballistic mode and "safely splashed down into Bay of Bengal off Andaman and Nicobar Islands".
The new rocket is capable of carrying communication satellites as heavy as 4000 kg, reports say.
ISRO plans to send a manned mission to space this decade, and the successful experiment of launching an unmanned capsule boosts its claim for funding from the government.
India's ambitious Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the ISRO scientists for the successful launch of GSLV MK-III, which he termed as "yet another triumph of their brilliance and hard work."
The new rocket enables India not to rely on foreign launchers to send heavier satellites into space. ■