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SAIL’s Bhilai Plant supplies special steel for ISRO’s Gaganyaan mission

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Bhilai: The latest lot of Misra Dhatu Nigam Limited (MIDHANI) slabs rolled in Bhilai Steel Plant’s Plate Mill for use in the satellite launch vehicle (SLV) for India’s first human space mission programme, Gaganyaan, was flagged off by SAIL’s Director (Projects) & CEO of Bhilai Plant Anirban Dasgupta on February 6, in the presence of senior officers of the plant.

SAIL-BSP has been contributing to India’s space programme at regular intervals by rolling MDN 250 slabs supplied by MIDHANI into 9.3 mm thick plates at Bhilai’s Plate Mill. The plates have been used in the outer motor casing of PSLV and GSLV satellite launch vehicles of ISRO, including SLV used for launching Chandrayan. The latest lot of 40 T of MIDHANI slabs rolled in February would now be used in the satellite launch vehicle for India’s first Human Space Mission programme, Gaganyan.

Flagging off the plates, Dasgupta congratulated the Plate Mill collective and members of other shops and agencies involved in the successful rolling of all 10 slabs. BSP’s steel is used on land, underwater and in space. While the plant supplies rail for rail transportation, plates rolled at Bhilai Steel Plant are being used both by the Indian Navy for its warships and by ISRO for its space missions, he said. Rolling of these slabs require strict parameters to be followed, and the Plate Mill team deserves kudos for the successful rolling. Plates rolled this time for SLVs are especially important since these would be used to launch India’s first manned space mission, he said. BP Singh, ED (Works), also congratulated the Plate Mill team and all others associated. Present on the occasion were CGM I/c (Services) SN Abidi, CGM I/c (Finance) Rangani, Chief General Managers and senior officers of the plant and members of Plate Mill collective in large numbers. Chief General Manager (Plate Mill) Sethi proposed the vote of thanks.

The first lot of slabs from MIDHANI were rolled at Bhilai’s Plate Mill in Oct 2009. The second lot was rolled in February 2012. In recent times, BSP has taken up rolling of MDN 250 slabs on a regular basis. Around 42 T of slabs supplied by MIDHANI was reheated and successfully rolled into plates of 9.3 mm thickness in January 2018. Two campaigns were taken in November 2018. On November 15, 2018, SAIL-BSP’s Plate Mill successfully rolled maraging steel MDN 250.

Rolling of maraging steel MDN 250 was also taken up in 2019. It was successfully done in January 2019. Subsequently, rolling was again done on July and September 2019. While around 102 Tonnes of MDN slabs were rolled into plates and supplied during the entire fiscal year 2018-19, 148 Tonnes of this grade of plates have so far been rolled in the current fiscal year 2019-20, including the latest lot rolled in Feb 2020, for use to launch Gaganyan.

Successful rolling of maraging steel has been achieved by meticulous planning, in association with MIDHANI and VSRC. These forged slabs of special steel of very high strength and high-temperature resistance, consisting of a high percentage of expensive alloying elements were rolled into thinner plates of 9.3 mm thickness. Special care is taken during re-heating of the slabs and rolling. Stringent technological norms were formulated and followed by an entire collective of Plate Mill, RCL & Instrumentation Depts, along with several other associated departments.

The rolling of these slabs is an excellent example of synergy and team effort between Plate Mill and RCL of Bhilai Steel Plant, MIDHANI and ISRO. With this, Bhilai Steel Plant has taken several steps forward in the direction of “Make in India.” MIDHANI’s Director SK Jha, who was present during the rolling of the plates in Januaury 2018, acknowledged the superior facilities at the Plate Mill. “The true potential of SAIL’s Plate Mill in Bhilai has come to focus,” he said. After the successful rolling in February 2020, Mohanty, General Manager (Quality) at MIDHANI has in a mail sent to GM (Plate Mill) “congratulated the entire team of Bhilai Steel Plant associated in successful rolling of special steel slabs into plates to be used for Gaganyan programme by taking care of all technical parameters as per requirement.”

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