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India Bid to Join Elite Rocket Club Halted by Engine Fuel Leak

India called off a launch of a rocket designed to carry large satellites into space after a leak was detected in its fuel system, marking a third consecutive failure of the technology.

India has been attempting to join an elite club of five nations -- the U.S., Russia, Japan, China and France -- that use their own advanced cryogenic rocket technology to launch heavier satellite payloads. Two previous Indian attempts to launch such a rocket failed in 2010.

The Indian Space Research Organization discovered the fault on the GSLV-D5 rocket, powered by a so-called cryogenic engine, two hours before the scheduled liftoff at 4:50 p.m today from the Sriharikota space center in southern Andhra Pradesh state.

“We will assess the data and find out the cause of the fuel leakage,” ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan said in a televised press conference. “We will announce the new date after the assessment.”

The countdown for the launch of the rocket, carrying the GSAT-14 communications satellite, began at 11:50 a.m. yesterday.

Cryogenic engines use low-density liquefied gases as a fuel, increasing the size of the storage tanks and adding to the bulk of the rocket.

India put its first space rocket into space in 1963 and its first satellite in 1975.

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