India puts off re-launch of failed satellite

The rocket carrying India's communication GSAT-5P satellite explodes after take-off, 25 December, 2010 Earlier attempts to launch the satellite have failed

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Indian space authorities have called off plans to re-launch a communications satellite barely an hour before it was to lift-off.

A 29-hour countdown for the launch had begun on Sunday at the launch pad in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

Two earlier attempts at lift-off three years ago had failed - in December 2010, the rocket disappeared in a plume of smoke moments after its launch.

The first attempt to launch it in April 2010 had also been unsuccessful.

The Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), carrying communication satellite GSAT-14, was to be powered by an indigenous cryogenic engine, and the launch was scheduled for 16:50 India time (11:20GMT) from Sriharikota launch pad.

But with just an hour to go for the launch, the India Space Research Organisation (Isro) stopped the countdown.

"The launch has been postponed. The launch date will be announced later," The Times of India quoted an Isro scientist as saying.

He did not attributed any reason for the postponement, the paper said, but added that smoke was detected coming out of the rocket.

India has successfully launched lighter satellites in recent years, but has faced problems sending up heavier payloads.

India is seeking to increase its share of the growing commercial satellite launch market, and says it wants to send a manned mission in space in 2016.

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