Page last updated at 16:42 GMT, Wednesday, 7 April 2010 17:42 UK

India to launch satellite using own cryogenic engine

The Ocean Monitoring Satellite Oceansat-2 is seen 18 minutes after blast off on September 23, 2009
India's space programme is more than 45 years old

India will soon launch an advanced communications satellite, put into orbit for the first time by a cryogenic engine developed by its own scientists.

The engine burns hydrogen in the presense of oxygen, both stored at very low temperatures to be liquid. They would otherwise be gas.

Officials say few countries in the world have this technology.

BBC science reporter Jonathan Amos says a successful launch would be another milestone for India's space programme.

Our correspondent says handling supercold (croygenic) propellants is not easy and the announcement of next week's launch is a significant development for India as an emerging space power.

'Do it yourself'

The new engine is being incorporated into the upper-stage of India's Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

"It is a complex strategy technology," said Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) Chairman K Radhakrishnan.

He said the rocket would send a heavy communications satellite into space on 15 April from the country's launch pad at Sriharikota in eastern India.

Dr Radhakrishnan told reporters in Bangalore that the technology was home grown because "one country stopped another country in giving this technology to India".

India began developing cryogenic technology after Russia reneged on a deal to supply cryogenic engines in 1993 - following pressure from the United States, which believed India was using the technology to power missiles.

"The best reply is to... build your own technology," Dr Radhakrishnan said.

India has been using Russian engines to launch heavier satellites into space for some time. Only a limited group of spacefaring interests have developed cryogenic engines, including the US, Russia, Japan, China and Europe.

India hopes to emerge as a global player in the multi-billion dollar satellite launch market.

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