India launches ‘monster’ rocket

The 640-tonne rocket blasted off from a launching site off the Bay of Bengal in Sriharikota. The rocket will reduce the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (Isro) reliance on European vehicles to launch heavy satellites. The coverage of the launch has been euphoric, and often colourful, with websites comparing the rocket to the weight of 200 elephants, or five jumbo jets.
Such comparisons highlight the importance of the launch for the country, which is aggressively competing to get a bigger share of the global commercial satellite launch market.
India has so far relied on other countries to send heavy satellites into space, which is expensive and a drain on Isro’s budget.
The GSLV Mark III can carry put a payload weighing more than three tonnes into the high altitude orbit occupied by the spacecraft that relay TV, telephone calls and broadband connections.
But it’s far from being the world’s heaviest rocket because Nasa’s Saturn V, which was used between 1967 and 1973, still holds that record, with total mass at lift-off about four times that of India’s GSLV Mark III.