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  • The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle is an expendable launch system developed and operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
  • It was developed to allow India to launch its Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites into sun synchronous orbits, a service that was, until the advent of the PSLV, commercially viable only from Russia.
  • PSLV can also launch small size satellites into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). The PSLV has launched 41 satellites (19 Indian and 22 from other countries) into a variety of orbits to date.


  • PSLV has been designed and developed at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
  • After some delays, the PSLV had its first launch on 20 September 1993. ISRO met complete success with the third developmental launch in 1996.
  • PSLV continues to be the work horse of Indian satellite launches, especially for LEO satellites.
  • It has undergone several improvements with each subsequent version, especially those involving thrust, efficiency as well as weight.


  • The PSLV has four stages using solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately.
  • The first stage is one of the largest solid-fuel rocket boosters in the world and carries 138 tonnes of Hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) bound propellant. The motor case is made of maraging steel (Fe+Ni) which helps in reducing weight of first stage by one-third and increasing the payload ratio.
  • The second stage employs the Vikas engine and carries 41.5 tonnes of liquid propellant – Unsymmetrical Di-Methyl Hydrazine (UDMH) as fuel and Nitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) as oxidizer.
  • The third stage uses 7 tonnes of HTPB-based solid propellant. It makes use of an alloy, Polyaramide or kevlar fibre which is light and sturdy.
  • The fourth and the terminal stage of PSLV has a twin engine configuration using liquid propellant loading of 2 tonnes (Mono-Methyl Hydrazine as fuel + Mixed Oxides of Nitrogen as oxidiser).


  • ISRO has envisaged a number of variants of PSLV to cater to different mission requirements.
  • There are currently three operational versions of the PSLV — the standard (PSLV), the core-alone (PSLV-CA), and the (PSLV-XL) version. All the three versions have proved to be unalloyed successes.
  • These configurations provide wide variations in payload capabilities ranging from 600 kg in LEO to 1900 kg in sun synchronous orbit.


  • The standard version of the PSLV has four stages using solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately and six strap-on boosters.
  • It currently has capability to launch 1,678 kg to 622 km into sun synchronous orbit. This standard variant was used for D series flights and C1 – C7 and C16 flights.


  • The PSLV-CA, CA meaning “Core Alone”, model premiered on April 23, 2007. It does not include the six strap-on boosters used by the PSLV standard variant.
  • It currently has capability to launch 1,100 kg to 622 km sun synchronous orbit. Core Alone variant was used for C8-C10, C12, C14, C15, C18 flights.

PSLV-XL (Operational) –

  • PSLV-XL is the updated version of PSLV in its standard configuration boosted by more powerful, stretched strap-on boosters. Weighing 320 tonnes at lift-off, the vehicle uses larger strap-on motors (PSOM-XL) to achieve higher payload capability.
  • The first version of PSLV-XL was the launch of Chandrayaan-1 by PSLV-C11. The payload capability for this variant is 1800 kg compared to 1600 kg for the other variants. | POLAR SATELLITE LAUNCH VEHICLE (PSLV)



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