Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is an indigenous, third generation launch vehicle developed by ISRO. It comes in the category of medium-lift launchers with a reach up to the Geo Synchronous Transfer Orbit, Lower Earth Orbit, and Polar Sun Synchronous Orbit. PSLV operations are controlled from the Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota. PSLV is a four-stage rocket that combines solid and liquid propellants.
The first stage at the very bottom is solid fuelled having six strap-on solid rocket boosters wrapped around it. The second stage is liquid-fuelled whereas the third stage has a solid fuelled rocket motor. At the fourth stage, the launcher uses a liquid propellant for a boost in outer space.
PSLV continues to support Indian and foreign satellite launches, especially for low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. It has undergone several improvements with each subsequent version, especially those involving thrust, efficiency as well as weight.
When was PSLV launched?
While studies to develop a vehicle capable of delivering 600 kg payload to 550 km Sun-synchronous orbit from SHAR began in 1978, the PSLV was first launched on September 20, 1993.
The first and second stages performed as expected, but an attitude control problem led to the collision of the second and third stages at separation, and the payload failed to reach orbit.
After this initial setback, the PSLV successfully completed its second mission in 1994.
PSLV's fourth mission suffered partial failure in 1997. By Nov 2014 the PSLV had launched 34 times with no further failures.
In November 2013, it was used to launch the Mars Orbiter Mission, India's first interplanetary probe.
The period between 1994-2017 saw the vehicle launch 48 Indian satellites and 209 foreign satellites
PSLV can be customised to fly in three configurations according to the mission requirements. It weighs 229,000, 296,000 or 320,000 kg. The launcher has a payload capacity of 1,050 kg for launching into the Geo Synchronous Transfer Orbit and 1,600 kg for the Polar Sun Synchronous Orbit.
PSLV is also used in its Core Alone configuration and an XL Version. Core Alone version is launched without six strap-on boosters and less propellant in its upper stage – a configuration specifically used in the missions featuring small payloads. The XL version is launched with extra propellant in the strap-on solid rocket boosters for increasing the payload capacity.
Important launches by PSLV
- PSLV-C47 / Cartosat-3 Mission on November 27, 2019
- PSLV-C46 Mission on May 22, 2019
- PSLV-C45/EMISAT MISSION on April 1, 2019
- PSLV-C44 on January 24, 2019
- PSLV-C41/IRNSS-1I on April 12, 2018
- PSLV-C40/Cartosat-2 Series Satellite Mission on January 12, 2018
- PSLV-C30/AstroSat MISSION on September 28, 2015
- PSLV-C14 / OCEANSAT-2 on September 23, 2009
- PSLV-C4 /KALPANA-1: September 12, 2002
- PSLV-C1 / IRS-1D: September 29, 1997
- PSLV-D2 on October 15, 1994
The vehicle also successfully launched Chandrayaan-1 and Mars Orbiter Spacecraft in 2008 and 2013 respectively.
Isro's future plans for PSLV
ISRO plans to privatise the operations of PSLV and will work through a joint venture with private industries. The launches will be managed through Antrix Corporation.