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ISRO to tighten component quality audit

Madhumathi D.S.

To ensure zero defect in its entire supply chain


A minor flaw in a first stage engine component - made by a consortium and assembled by ISRO - may be to blame.

Bangalore , July 16

The GSLV-F02 disaster of July 10 will now bring all the industries that supplied to the launch vehicle programme under extra-rigorous quality scanner, according to an ISRO official.

Some 150 small, medium enterprises and large companies supply components and sub-systems for the launchers. The space agency sources its needs en bloc for two PSLVs and two GSLVs each year after thorough quality audits before each flight.

"This would have to be intensified and looked into microscopically, to perhaps even before the design stage. We are now in the process of reviewing all procedures and process documents to rule out any deviations. The teams are already there. We are right away getting into it," the official said.

All the process documents and manufacturing processes at work centres would come under tight, total quality audit to ensure zero defect in its entire supply chain, the senior official privy to the developments told Business Line.

The launch vehicle programme (LVP) is almost fully indigenous, with companies such as HAL, Tata, Godrej, L&T as regular participants. These and other industries have supplied ISRO's rockets, the Vikas rocket engines, motors, resistors, plumbing and other components.

The audit will back up investigations by a 15-member failure analysis committee, led by Mr K. Narayana, into what went wrong with the launcher moments after its take-off.

ENGINE COMPONENT?

As per ISRO's first assessments, one of the four strap-on motors proved a dud and drove the GSLV-F02 off the path at barely 15 km. For the first time, ISRO had to destroy the failed launcher along with the broadcast satellite Insat-4C.

A minor flaw in a first stage engine component - made by a consortium and assembled by ISRO - may be to blame. The agency has sourced 70 of these Vikas engines and used 50 so far - one in every PSLV and five per GSLV.

"We understood the problem within ten hours of the failure and have almost identified it. It was a minor problem that happened to (European major) Arianespace too. The (investigating) committee will do a thorough analysis" over the next one month, he said.

NEXT GSLV

The next GSLV, D3, is now to be flown around June 2007, if corrections are made and the FAC gives the thumbs-up. That launch will test the indigenous cryogenic engine; and the satellite navigation payload for the Rs 350-crore GPS augmentation plan, GAGAN, to be put on experimental GSAT-4.

As for the workhorse PSLVs used for low-earth orbits, the schedule is unchanged, the official said. Coming up in September-end will be a PSLV to slot mapping satellite Cartosat-2 and an experiment to recover a 400-kg space capsule. It will also fly a small, 50-kg Indonesian satellite Lapan Tubsat and a 5-kg Argentine microsatellite.

In January 2007, ISRO plans to launch the Italian-made 600-kg `Agile' on another PSLV.

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