Space Launch Report:  PSLV
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Vehicle Configurations

Vehicle Components

Launch History

PSLV C6 Launch in 2005 Placed Cartosat 1 and Hamsat into Sun Synchronous Orbit

India's Space Research Organization (ISRO) introduced the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) series in 1993. PSLV, designed to lift 1.5 metric ton satellites to sun synchronous polar orbit from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, Sriharikota, India, is a conglomerate of Indian and European components.

PSLV performance was progressively improved during the 1990s. The standard "G" version, first flown operationally in 1997, stands 44.4 meters tall and weighs 295 metric tons at liftoff. It consists of four stages that use solid and liquid propellants alternately.

The first stage uses a 2.8 meter diameter, 20 meter long, 472 ton thrust solid motor that burns 138 tons of propellant for 107 seconds. The first stage is augmented by six solid strap-on boosters that produce 67.5 tons of thrust each for 45 seconds. Four of the strap-on boosters ignite at liftoff. The two air-start strap-ons ignite 25 seconds after liftoff. The strap-on boosters are jettisonned after burn-out.  More powerful "XL" boosters carrying 12 tonnes of propellant and producing up to 73.4 tonnes of thrust debuted in 2008.

PSLV Second Stage Viking 4 Engine (ISRO)PSLV Second Stage Engine

PSLV's 12.5 x 2.8 m PS-2 (L40) second stage is powered by a 73.9 ton-thrust Viking 4 engine that burns unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine (UDMH) fuel and nitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) oxidizer for 162 seconds. Viking 4, called "Vikas" by ISRO, was originally built by Europe's SEP for the Ariane 1 launch vehicle. 

The third stage is another 2.8 meter diameter solid motor. It burns 7.6 tons of propellant for 109 seconds, producing 33.5 tons of thrust.

The fourth and final stage is a twin-engine liquid propulsion system that is housed within the payload fairing below the satellite. It burns 2.5 tons of mono-methyl hydrazine (MMH) fuel and nitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) oxidizer. The 1.43 ton thrust stage can burn for up to 420 seconds.

The vehicle is controlled by a strap-down inertial navigation/guidance system housed in a vehicle equipment bay that is mounted on top of the fourth stage. An 8.3 meter tall, 3.2 meter diameter payload fairing protects the payload during ascent through the atmosphere.

The first PSLV launch, in 1993, failed due to a software guidance error. The second flight one year later successfully boosted India's IRS-P2 Earth resource monitoring satellite into an 820 km x 98.7 degree sun synchronous orbit. Eight PSLV launches occurred during the first 10 years of its use, with six successes. In 2002, PSLV-C4 performed the first PSLV geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) mission.

The original PSLV/GSLV launch complex was supplemented in 2005 with a new, mobile launch facility. PSLV-C6 was the first rocket to use the pad. Whereas the original pad featured a fixed launch stand and a 75 meter tall mobile service tower, the new "second launch pad" uses rail-mobile launch stands that allow vehicles to be stacked in a vertical integration building located some distance from the launch pad itself.

The January 10, 2007 PSLV-C7 mission included the first use of a PSLV dual launch adapter, which deployed both Cartosat 2 and the SRE 1 demonstration recovery capsule and carried a small microsatellite.  

The PSLV-CA (Core Alone) model premiered on April 23, 2007.   The CA model did not include the six strap-on boosters used by the standard PSLV variant.   Two small roll control modules and two first stage motor control injection tanks were still attached to the side of the first stage.  About 400 kg of propellant was offloaded from the fourth stage compared to the standard PSLV.

Chandrayaan 1, India's first lunar orbiter, was launched by the first PSLV-XL variant on October 22, 2008.  PSLV-XL, boosted by more powerful, stretched strap-on boosters, weighed 22 tonnes more at liftoff than the standard PSLV.   On the C25 mission in November 2013, a PSLV-XL placed India's Mars Orbiter Mission - the country's first Mars mission - into an elliptical orbit from which the spacecraft boosted itself into a trans-Mars trajectory using six perigee burns.  Beginning that same year, the launcher became busy orbiting India's first navigation satellite constellation (IRNSS). 

The PSLV C37 mission, launched on September 26, 2016, was the first time that the rocket had inserted multiple payloads into two separate orbit altitudes.  At 2.25 hours duration, it was also the longest PSLV mission to date.

Vehicle Configurations

(metric tons)
200 km x 49.5 deg
[800 km x 98 deg]
Configuration LIftoff
(metric tons)
PSLV ("-G") 3.7 t
[1.6 t]
1.1 t 4 stage PSLV core with 6xS-9 strap-on boosters 44.4 m 295 t
PSLV-CA [1.1 t]   4 stage PSLV core 44.4 m 230 t
PSLV-XL [1.8 t] 1.3 t 4 Stage PSLV core with 6xS-12 strap-on boosters 44.4 m 316 t

Vehicle Components

  Stage 1 Core
Stage 1
(Each of 6)
(2 Air-Start)
Stage 1
(Each of 6)
(2 Air-Start)
Stage 2
Stage 3
Stage 4
Diameter (m) 2.8 m 1.0 m 1.0 m 2.8 m 2.0 m 2.8 m 3.2 m
Length (m) 20.3 m 10.0 m 12.4 m 12.5 m 3.6 m 2.9 m 8.3 m
Propellant Mass
(metric tons)
138 t 8.92 t 12.0 t 40.6 t
41.5 t (after C5)
7.6 t 2.5 t
2.1 t (PSLV-CA)
Total Mass
(metric tons)
168 t 10.93 t   46.0 t
46.9 t (after C5)
8.3 t 2.92 t
2.52 t (PSLV-CA)
1.1 t
Engine S138 S9 S12 Viking 4 S7 L2  
Oxidizer       N2O4   N2O4  
(SL metric tons)
447.22 t 46.39 t (ea)          
(Vac metric tons)
500.68 t 51.25 t (ea) 73.42 t (ea) 73.93 t
81.58 t (after C5)
33.52 t 1.43 t  
ISP (SL sec) 237 s 229 s          
ISP (Vac sec) 269 s 253 s   296 s 294 s 308 s  
Burn Time (sec) 98 s 45 s 49 s 162 s
147 s (after C5)
109 s 516.6 s  
No. Engines 1 1 Each 1 Each 1 1 2 1

Typical PSLV-C Launch Timeline

Time Event Altitude Velocity
T+0 s S125 Core Stage Ignites 0 km 0
T+1.2 s 4 Ground Lit Boosters Ignite - Liftoff 0 km  
T+25 s 2 Airlit Boosters Ignite 2.4 km  
T+45 s 4 Ground Lit Boosters Burnout km  
T+68 s 4 Ground Lit Boosters Separate 23.7 km  
T+90 s 2 Air Lit Boosters Burnout/Separate 42.6 km  
T+113 s First Stage Burnout/Second Stage Ignition 68.5 km  
T +157 s Payload Fairing Jettison 117 km  
T + 266 s Second Stage Shutdown/Thrid Stage Ignition 248 km  
T + 389 s Third Stage Shutdown/Sep 425 km  
Varies Fourth Stage Burn After Coast 800 km typical
but varies
7.5 km/s LEO
10 km/s GTO

PSLV Launch History

DATE     VEHICLE          ID     PAYLOAD                 MASS(t)   SITE*    ORBIT*
09/20/93  PSLV            D1     IRS-1E                    0.846   SR 1     [FTO] [1]

10/15/94  PSLV            D2     IRS-P2                    0.804   SR 1      LEO/S

03/21/96  PSLV            D3     IRS-P3                    0.930   SR 1      LEO/S

09/29/97  PSLV            C1     IRS-1D                    1.250   SR 1     [LEO] [2]

05/26/99  PSLV            C2     IRS-P4/Kitsat-3/Tubsat-C  1.191   SR 1      LEO/S 

10/22/01  PSLV            C3     TES,BIRD,PROBA            1.294   SR 1      LEO/S

09/12/02  PSLV            C4     Metsat 1                  1.055   SR 1      GTO

10/17/03  PSLV            C5     IRS-P6                    1.36    SR 1      LEO/S

05/05/05  PSLV            C6     Cartosat 1/Hamsat         1.60    SR 2      LEO/S[3]

01/10/07  PSLV            C7     CartoSat 2/SRE 1          1.29    SR 1      LEO/S
04/23/07  PSLV-CA         C8     AGILE/AMM                 0.54    SR 2      LEO  [4]

01/21/08  PSLV-CA         C10    Tecsar(Polaris)           0.295   SR 1      LEO
04/28/08  PSLV-CA         C9     Cartosat 2A               0.768   SR 2      LEO/S
10/22/08  PSLV-XL         C11    Chandrayaan 1             1.38    SR 2      EEO  [5]

04/20/09  PSLV-CA         C12    RISAT 2/ANUSAT            0.34    SR 2      LEO
09/23/09  PSLV-CA         C14    Oceansat 2/5xusats        0.972   SR 1      LEO/S

07/12/10  PSLV-CA         C15    Cartosat 2B/Altsat 2A     0.82    SR 1      LEO/S

04/20/11  PSLV            C16    ResourceSat-2             1.4     SR 1      LEO/S
07/15/11  PSLV-XL         C17    GSAT-12                   1.41    SR 2      GTO-
10/12/11  PSLV-CA         C18    Mega-Tropiques            1.047   SR 1      LEO

04/26/12  PSLV-XL         C19    Risat 1                   1.858   SR 1      LEO/S
09/09/12  PSLV-CA         C21    SPOT 6/Proiteres          0.727   SR 1      LEO/S

02/25/13  PSLV-CA         C20    SARAL/Sapphire            0.676   SR 1      LEO/S
07/01/13  PSLV-XL         C22    IRNSS-1A                  1.425   SR 1      GTO- [6]
11/05/13  PSLV-XL         C25    Mars Orbiter Mission      1.337   SR 1      EEO  [7]

04/04/14  PSLV-XL         C24    IRNSS 1B                  1.432   SR 1      GTO- [8]
06/30/14  PSLV-CA         C23    SPOT 7 (+4usats)          0.765   SR 1      LEO/S
10/15/14  PSLV-XL         C26    IRNSS 1C                  1.425   SR 1      GTO- [8]

03/28/15  PSLV-XL         C27    IRNSS 1D                  1.425   SR 2      GTO- [9] 
07/10/15  PSLV-XL         C28    3xDMC3                    1.439   SR 1      LEO/S 
09/28/15  PSLV-XL         C30    Astrosat + 6usats         1.631   SR 1      LEO
12/16/15  PSLV-CA         C29    TeLEOS 1 + 5usats         0.625   SR 1      LEO 

01/20/16  PSLV-XL         C31    IRNSS 1E                  1.425   SR 2      GTO- [10]
03/10/16  PSLV-XL         C32    IRNSS 1F                  1.425   SR 2      GTO- [11]
04/28/14  PSLV-XL         C33    IRNSS 1G                  1.425   SR 1      GTO-
06/22/16  PSLV-XL         C34    Cartosat 2 + 19 usats     1.288   SR 2      LEO/S
09/26/16  PSLV            C35    ScatSat 1/Multisats       0.675   SR 1      LEO/S
12/07/16  PSLV-XL         C36    Resourcesat 2A            1.235   SR 1      LEO/S

02/15/17  PSLV-XL         C37    Cartosat 2D +103 nsats    1.378   SR 1      LEO/S
06/23/17  PSLV-XL         C38    Cartosat 2E+30nsats       0.955   SR 1      LEO/S
08/31/17  PSLV-XL         C39    IRNSS 1H                  1.425   SR 2     [EEO][12]

01/12/18 PSLV-XL          C40    Cartosat 2F/usats         1.313   SR 1      LEO/S
04/11/18 PSLV-XL          C41    IRNSS 1I                  1.425   SR 1      GTO-  


[1] 1993 D1 - Unsuccessful due to software error in on board guidance and control 
processor No orbit due attitude control failure

[2] Fourth stage helium pressurant leak caused 130 m/s shortfall.  Planned 817km 
     circular sun synchronous not achieved.  IRS-1D used >70% of own propellant to 
     reach 742 x 822 km "functional" orbit from low 306 x 822 km x 98.5deg 
     insertion orbit.

[3]  First use of Second Launch Pad (SLP)

[4] First Core Alone PSLV.  Used big plane change maneuver to reach 550 km x 2.5 deg 
      circular orbit.  352 kg primary payload AGILE (Astro-rivelatore Gamma a Immagini    
      LEggero), an Italian Space Agency gamma-ray observatory, mounted on top of Dual 
      Launch Adapter (DLA).  185 kg Advanced Avionics Module (AAM) was mounted inside 
      DLA to test upgraded avionics for PSLV and GSLV.  Stg 4 propellant reduced by 
      400 kg for this flight.  

[5]  India's first lunar mission.  First PSLV-XL with stretched strap-on boosters.

[6] To planned subsynchronous transfer orbit.  IRNSS to lift self to GEO x 29 deg.

[7] Satellite raised itself to trans-Mars trajectory with six perigee burns.  
      India's first Mars orbiting exploration satellite.

[8] To planned subsynchronous transfer orbit.  IRNSS to lift self to GEO x 0.0 deg.

[9] To planned subsynchronous transfer orbit.  IRNSS to lift self to GEO x 30.5 deg.

[10] To planned subsynchronous transfer orbit.  IRNSS to lift self to GEO x 28 deg.

[11] To planned subsynchronous transfer orbit.  IRNSS to lift self to GEO x 5.0 deg.

[12] Planned sub-synchronous.  PLF failed to separate.  
        167 x 6555 km x 19.2 deg orbit, far short of planned 650 x 20650 km.


 FLP = First Launch Pad
 SR = Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India
 SLP = Second Launch Pad

[FTO] = Failed to Orbit
 GTO = Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit
 GTO+ = Supersynchronous or High Perigee Transfer Orbit
 GTO- = Subsynchronous Transfer Orbit
 GTOi = Inclined GTO
 GEO = Geosynchronous Orbit
 HCO = Heliocentric (solar) Orbit
 HTO = High Earth Transfer Orbit
 LEO = Low Earth Orbit
[LEO] = Unplanned LEO
 LEO/S = Sun Synchronous Low Earth Orbit
 LEO/P = Polar Low Earth Orbit
 MEO = Medium Earth Orbit
 MTO = Medium Earth Transfer Orbit 




SLV-3 E1 August 10, 1979 Partially successful. A jammed valve in the second stage control system resulted in the leak of oxidizer.
SLV-3 E2 July 18, 1980 Successful
SLV-3 D1 May 31, 1981 Successful
SLV-3 D2 April 17, 1983 Successful

ASLV-D1 March 24, 1987 Unsuccessful due to non-ignition of first stage
ASLV-D2 July 13, 1988 Unsuccessful . The flight was normal only up to 46 seconds after lift off
ASLV-D3 May 20, 1992 Successful
ASLV-D4 May 4, 1994 Successful

 Last Update:  April 11, 2018