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Almost everybody has been lauding about India's successful testing of "Indigenous" cryogenic engine for full flight duration of 720 seconds on November 15, 2007 for upper stage of India's GSLV. Ground test for 480 seconds was conducted in August 2007.
ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair while delivering the thirty-second foundation day lecture on `Space Technology Development - Management Perspective' at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore said that "we have completed the qualification of indigenous cryogenic engine. It is as good as Russian one."
Now, does that mean it is almost as good as the one we got it from Russia or we have made a engine comparable to Russian one is anybody's good guess. Vijainder K thakur claims that the Indian cryogenic engine is none other than Russian oxygen/hydrogen liquid-propellant rocket engine KVD-1. It is the only one of its kind in the world. The reasoning & the references given by V K thakur are found to be quite credible. (he has also listed references at the end of the article) The article mentions that India had entered into $120 million contract for supply of 2 KVD-1 cryogenic engines & complete transfer of technology with the Glavkosmos. In 1993 US forced Russia to cancel that contract citing violation of MTCR(Misssile Technology Control Regime). Glavkosmos renegotiated the contract to exclude transfer of technology and the sanctions were lifted by US. later ISRO exuded confidence of bulding own engines but faltered in its development. The development is in process since 1986. In december 2001 we renegotiated the contract & further development of launch was collaborated, that also meant that Russia will also help in development of current technoogy.
There are some other aspects which tells us that the engine is definitely indigenous but not exactly true to its term. The Engine developed may be indigenously but the tech has not been sold to us by the Russians rather stolen by us from Russian Cryogenic engines supplied to us for our own GSLV launchings.
You would recall that India entered into contract with Russia for supply 5 cryogenic engines for launches og GSLV in December 2001. Except for the failure of the launch of GSLV F02 in July 2006, all the other launches were fairly successful. The official reason for failure of F02 launch was said to be faulty regulator in one of the Four strap on boosters to the launch vehicle. My wild guess was that the ISRO is not so naive to make a mistake in strap on booster. Rather the failure was because of the Faulty Cryogenic engine fitted in the launch vehicle. The original engine was used by India to copy the tech involved in it. Nowhere did anybody discuss about what happened to the cryo part of launch vehicle. By placing the blame on the strap-on booster, gaze of all was shifted away from cryo part. The realty must be that cryo engine was used by Indian scientists to develop our so called very own engine.
Vijainder Thakur is correct in assessing that ISRO has not told the complete truth. India has really been facing lt of hassles in developing critical technologies. rather they be for MBT Arjun, missiles under IGMDP (Integrated Missile Development Programme), Ummaned Arial Vehicles or Bullet Proof vests for Armed forces. All have seen major failures. None of the above said programmes have had successes to the considerable levels.
The real test of Cryogenic engine does lie in testing but successful launching of GSLV having indigenous engine.