Indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage of GSLV-D5 Copyright ISRO
A cryogenic rocket stage is more efficient and provides more thrust for every kilogram of propellant it burns compared to solid and earth-storable liquid propellant rocket stages. Specific impulse (a measure of the efficiency) achievable with cryogenic propellants (liquid Hydrogen and liquid Oxygen) is much higher compared to earth storable liquid and solid propellants, giving a substantial payload advantage.
However, cryogenic stage is technically very complex system compared to solid earth-storable liquid propellant stages due to its use of propellants at extremely low temperatures and the associated thermal and structural problems. Oxygen liquifies at –183 deg C and Hydrogen at –253 deg C.
The propellants, at these low temperatures are to be pumped using turbo pumps running at around 40,000 rpm. It also entails complex ground support systems like propellant storage and filling systems, cryogenic engine and stage test facilities, transportation and handling of cryo fluids and related safety aspects.
ISRO’s Cryogenic Upper Stage Project (CUSP) envisaged the design and development of the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage to replace the stage procured from Russia which was earlier used in GSLV flights. The main engine and two smaller steering engines of CUS together develop a nominal thrust of 73.55 kN in vacuum.
During the flight, CUS fires for a nominal duration of 720 seconds. Liquid Oxygen (LOX) and Liquid Hydrogen(LH2) from the respective tanks are fed by individual booster pumps to the main turbopump to ensure a high flow rate of propellants into the combustion chamber. Thrust control and mixture ratio control are achieved by two independent regulators. Two gimbaled steering engines provide for control of the stage during its thrusting phase.