India hopes new rocket can carry humans into space

NEW DELHI — India’s space agency prepared Monday to launch its heaviest rocket carrying a communication satellite from a launch pad off the country’s southeastern coast.

The Indian Space Research Organization said the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III rocket would lift off Monday afternoon from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh state.

Scientists say the rocket could be used in the future to carry an astronaut into space, something that only Russia, the United States and China have done.

India hopes the successful launch of the satellite, which weighs 3,136 kilograms (6,914 pounds), will expand its commercial launch business. In the past, India has used French rockets to launch its heavier communication satellites.

The space agency’s chairman, A.S. Kiran Kumar, says it is “the heaviest-ever rocket and satellite to be launched from the country.”

The rocket is powered by an indigenous engine that uses liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as propellants, Kumar told reporters.

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This story has been corrected to show that satellite, not rocket, weighs 3,136 kilograms.

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