Watch: Sombre mood at ISRO centre after unsuccessful launch of India's first private-sector manufactured satellite

The failure of the IRNSS-1H launch on Thursday is the first failure on board the PSLV since 1994

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had prepared for the launch of India’s first private-sector manufactured satellite, the IRNSS-1H on Thursday. But seconds after the launch, there was a sombre mood at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre — the Sriharikota High Altitude Range (SHAR) in Andhra Pradesh. The launch was declared unsuccessful after a heat shield, protecting the satellite on board the PSLV-C39 rocket, did not detach.

The mission looked successful in the early seconds after the PSLV-C39 managed to deliver the IRNSS-1H satellite to its designated orbit in space. However, the heat shield failed to detach itself from the satellite. The quality of the signals that the ISRO received were sub-optimal after which the space centre declared the mission unsuccessful.

Soon after the completion of the entire launch sequence, the range operation director for the IRNSS-1H mission said: “During the operation, the heat shield has not separated. Further analysis will be carried out subsequently after.” The announcement can be heard in the 35th minute of the video.

In a short briefing about the launch, ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar said: “A heat shield is used to protect the satellite. It has to separate and fall out (in the fourth stage). And once that happens, the satellite is released to get into the orbit.” This did not happen, he added as gloom descended over the centre.

Since 1994, the failure of the IRNSS-1H launch on Thursday is the first failure on board the PSLV. The rocket had successfully conducted 39 consecutive missions before Thursday, delivering 48 Indian satellites and 209 foreign satellites into space.

Despite the unsuccessful launch, ISRO has been winning accolades all over social media:

ISRO launch

ISRO launch

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