Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) | ISRO
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) | ISRO

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) | ISRO

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is, therefore, India’s third generation launch vehicle and it was the first Indian launch vehicle that was equipped with liquid stages. India was developed to allow its Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites to be deployed into sun-synchronous orbits, a service that was only commercially available from Russia until the advent of the PSLV in 1993. In the Geostationary Transfer Orbit, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV can also launch small satellites (GTO).

In order to satisfy numerous mission specifications, ISRO has designed many versions of the PSLV. There are currently two operating variants of a PSLV – the core-alone (PSLV-CA), hence, without strap-on engines and (PSLV-XL) which have six stretched (XL) motors with a 12-tonne HTPB propellant. Both models provide large differences in payload capacities in the sun’s synchronous orbit up to 3.800 kg (8.400 lbs) of LEO and 1.800 kg (4,000 lbs).

Launches till date

The PSLV has been used to launch 52 Indian satellites to date. PSLV-G was first used for launch on September 20, 1993 however that mission was unsuccessful. The first successful mission of the PSLV was when PSLV-G was used to carry IRS-P2 into the SSPO orbit on October 15, 1994. The latest PSLV launch was when PSLV-C50/CMS-01 was launched from PSLV-XL into the GSO orbit.

Out of these 52 missions, 2 were, therefore, the famous Chandrayaan-1 and Mars Orbiter Spacecraft. PSLV launched the spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 which later travelled to the moon. Also, the PSLV launched the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft in 2013 and it later travelled to the planet Mars. PSLV has also been used to launch 209 satellites for foreign customers.

Vehicle Specifications

Height: 44 m
Diameter: 2.8 m
Number of Stages: 4
Lift Off Mass: 320 tonnes (XL)
Variants: 3 (PSLV-G, PSLV – CA, PSLV – XL)
First Flight: September 20, 1993

Technical Specifications

Payload to SSPO: 1750 Kg

PSLV is also known as ‘the Workhorse of ISRO’ as it has continuously and consistently delivered various satellites into Low Earth Orbits. The maximum payload is also that it can carry to Sun-Synchronous Polar Orbits of 600 km altitude is 1750 kg.

Payload to Sub GTO: 1425 Kg

PSLV has unmatched reliability in the industry, because of which it is also used to launch satellites into the Geosynchronous and Geostationary Orbits. 

Strap-on Motors 

The PSLV, therefore, used six solid rocket strap-on motors in its PSLV-G and PSLV-XL variants. The PSLV-CA also does not use any strap-ons.

FuelHTPB
Max. Thrust719 kN

Fourth Stage: PS4

The PS4 is also the uppermost stage of PSLV, comprising two Earth storable liquid engines.

Engine2 x PS-4
FuelMMH + MON
Max. Thrust7.6 x 2 kN

Third Stage: PS3

The third stage of PSLV is, therefore, a solid rocket motor that provides the upper stages high thrust after the atmospheric phase of the launch.

FuelHTPB
Max. Thrust240 kN

Second Stage: PS2

PSLV also uses an Earth storable liquid rocket engine for its second stage, known as the Vikas engine, developed by Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre. The second stage also holds some water in a toroidal tank below it. Hot gases from Vikas’ gas generator are cooled until they reach the turbopump with water spray.

EngineVikas
FuelUDMH + N2O4
Max. Thrust799 kN

First Stage: PS1

PSLV uses the S139 solid rocket motor that is augmented by 6 solid strap-on boosters. Four pairs of retro-rockets mounted on interstage (1/2L) assist in first stage separation and also, these 8 rockets help to drive the passed stage away from stage two.

EngineS139
FuelHTPB
Max. Thrust4800 kN

Therefore, the PSLV made 52 launches as of 17 December 2020, with 49 successful orbits, two clear breakdowns, one partial malfunction, resulting in 94% success (or 96 per cent including the partial failure). Every launch has been made by the Satish Dhawan Space Center, the Sriharikota Range recognised before 2002 (SHAR).

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