Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle
PSLV C-35 at the launch pad (cropped).jpg
PSLV C35 on launch pad
FunctionMedium lift launch system
Country of origin India
Cost per launch$21-31 million₹130-200 crore [1]
Height44 m (144 ft)
Diameter2.8 m (9 ft 2 in)
MassPSLV-G: 295,000 kg (650,000 lb)
PSLV-CA: 230,000 kg (510,000 lb)
PSLV-XL: 320,000 kg (710,000 lb)[2]
Payload to LEO3,800 kg (8,400 lb)[3]
Payload to SSO(620 km)1,750 kg (3,860 lb)[2]
Payload to Sub-GTO1,425 kg (3,142 lb)[2]
Payload to GTO1,200 kg (2,600 lb)[4]
Launch history
Launch sitesSriharikota
Total launches46
Partial failures1
First flight
  • PSLV-G: 20 September 1993
  • PSLV-CA: 23 April 2007
  • PSLV-XL: 22 October 2008
  • PSLV-DL: 24 January 2019
Last flight
  • PSLV-G: 26 September 2016
  • PSLV-CA: 29 November 2018
  • PSLV-XL: 11 April 2018
  • PSLV-DL: 24 January 2019
Notable payloadsChandrayaan-1, Mars Orbiter Mission, Astrosat, SRE-1, NAVIC
Boosters (PSLV-G) – S9
No. boosters6
Thrust510 kN (110,000 lbf)
Specific impulse262 s (2.57 km/s)
Burn time44 seconds
Boosters (PSLV-XL) – S12
No. boosters6
Length12 m (39 ft)[5]
Diameter1 m (3.3 ft)[5]
Propellant mass12,200 kg (26,900 lb) each[5]
Thrust703.5 kN (158,200 lbf) [6]
Specific impulse262 s (2.57 km/s)
Burn time70 seconds [6]
Boosters (PSLV-DL)
No. boosters2
Length12 m (39 ft)[7]
Diameter1 m (3.3 ft)[7]
Propellant mass12,200 kg (26,900 lb) each[7]
Burn time70 seconds [6]
First stage
Length20 m (66 ft)[5]
Diameter2.8 m (9.2 ft)[5]
Propellant mass138,200 kg (304,700 lb) each[5][2]
Thrust4,846.9 kN (1,089,600 lbf) [6]
Specific impulse237 s (2.32 km/s) (sea level)
269 s (2.64 km/s) (vacuum)
Burn time110 seconds [6]
Second stage
Length12.8 m (42 ft)[5]
Diameter2.8 m (9.2 ft)[5]
Propellant mass42,000 kg (93,000 lb) each[5]
Engines1 Vikas
Thrust803.7 kN (180,700 lbf) [6]
Specific impulse293 s (2.87 km/s)
Burn time133 seconds [6]
Third stage
Length3.6 m (12 ft)[5]
Diameter2 m (6.6 ft)[5]
Propellant mass7,600 kg (16,800 lb) each[5]
Thrust240 kN (54,000 lbf)
Specific impulse295 s (2.89 km/s)
Burn time83 seconds
Fourth stage
Length3 m (9.8 ft)[5]
Diameter1.3 m (4.3 ft)[5]
Propellant mass2,500 kg (5,500 lb) each[5]
Engines2 x L-2-5[8]
Thrust14.66 kN (3,300 lbf) [6]
Specific impulse308 s (3.02 km/s)
Burn time425 seconds

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is an expendable medium-lift launch vehicle designed 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 in 1993, commercially available only from Russia. PSLV can also launch small size satellites into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).[9]

Some notable payloads launched by PSLV include India's first lunar probe Chandrayaan-1, India's first interplanetary mission, Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan) and India's first space observatory, Astrosat.[2]

PSLV has gained credence as a small satellite launcher due its numerous multi-satellite deployment campaigns with auxiliary payloads usually ride sharing along an Indian primary payload. Most notable among these was the launch of PSLV C37 on 15 February 2017 successfully deploying 104 satellites in sun-synchronous orbit, tripling the previous record held by Russia for most number of satellites sent to space on a single launch.[10][11]

Payloads can be integrated in tandem configuration employing a Dual Launch Adapter.[12][13] Smaller payloads are also placed on equipment deck and customized payload adapters.[14]


Studies to develop a vehicle capable of delivering 600 kg payload to 550 km Sun-synchronous orbit from SHAR began in 1978. Among 35 proposed configurations, four were picked and by November 1980, a vehicle configuration with two strap-ons on a core booster (S80) with 80 tonne solid propellant loading each, a liquid stage with 30 tonne propellant load (L30) and an upper stage called Perigee-Apogee System (PAS) was being considered.[15][16][17][18]

By 1981, confidence grew in remote sensing spacecraft development with launch of Bhaskara-1 and the PSLV project objectives were upgraded to have vehicle deliver 1000 kg payload in 900 km SSO. As technology transfer of Viking rocket engine firmed up, a new lighter configuration shifting away from relying on three large solid boosters was proposed by team led by APJ Abdul Kalam and eventually selected.[19][20] Funding was approved in July 1982 for finalized design employing a single large S125 solid core as first stage with six 9 tonne strap-ons (S9) derived from SLV-3 first stage, liquid fueled second stage (L33) and two solid upper stages S7 and S2. This configuration needed further improvement to meet the orbital injection accuracy requirements of IRS satellites and hence solid terminal stage (S2) was replaced with a pressure fed liquid fueled stage (L1.8 or LUS) powered by twin engines derived from roll control engines of first stage. Apart from increasing precision, liquid upper stage also absorbed any deviation in performance of solid third stage. Final configuration of PSLV D1 to fly in 1993 was (6 × S9 + S125) + L37.5 + S7 + L2.[16][17]

The inertial navigation systems are developed by ISRO Inertial Systems Unit (IISU) at Thiruvananthapuram. The liquid propulsion stages for the second and fourth stages of PSLV as well as the Reaction control systems (RCS) are developed by the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) at Mahendragiri near Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. The solid propellant motors are processed at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR) at Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh which also carries out launch operations.

The PSLV was first launched on 20 September 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.[21] After this initial setback, the PSLV successfully completed its second mission in 1994.[22] The fourth launch of PSLV suffered a partial failure in 1997, leaving its payload in a lower than planned orbit. By Nov 2014 the PSLV had launched 34 times with no further failures.[23] (Although launch 41: Aug 2017 PSLV-C39 was unsuccessful.[2])

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. In November 2013, it was used to launch the Mars Orbiter Mission, India's first interplanetary probe.[24]

ISRO is planning to privatise the operations of PSLV and will work through a joint venture with private industries. The integration and launch will be managed an industrial consortium through Antrix Corporation.[25]

In June 2018, the Union Cabinet approved 6,131 crore (US$850 million) for 30 operational flights of the PSLV scheduled to take place between 2019 and 2024.[26]

Other Languages
беларуская: PSLV
भोजपुरी: पीएसएलवी
български: PSLV
Esperanto: PSLV
한국어: PSLV
עברית: PSLV
magyar: PSLV
日本語: PSLV
русский: PSLV
Türkçe: PSLV
українська: PSLV