After carrying out many successful satellite launches, it appears that the law of probability has finally started to work. In a disappointment to the country’s space agency ISRO, the PSLV-C39 mission has failed. The launch was carrying the IRNSS-1H satellite, which has been developed in collaboration with private companies. The satellite was supposed to augment the indigenous navigation system developed by India. Most stages of the launch went as per the plan, but the problem occurred when the heat shield of the PSLV rocket failed to open. The rocket reached the targeted sub-geosynchronous transfer orbit, but due to the heat shield still in place, the mission was unsuccessful.
The heat shield is used to protect the satellite from the extreme heat generated during launch. The heat shield was supposed to open 3 minutes and 23 seconds into the flight of the rocket, but it failed due to unknown reasons. ISRO chairman Kiran Kumar explained the incident, saying that since the heat shield did not separate, the satellite is essentially trapped inside. ISRO scientists will be looking at the failed deployment to find the reasons for the failure of the heat shield.
IRNSS-1H, the eighth in the NavIC constellation, was launched to replace IRNSS-1A, whose atomic clock had stopped working. Without the atomic clock, the satellite had lost its usability. However, the GPS system is still functional since only 4 satellites are needed for that and India currently has 6 fully functional satellites.