Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III

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Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III
The fully integrated GSLV-Mk III-D1 carrying GSAT-19 at the second launch pad - front view.jpg
GSLV Mk III D1 on Second Launch Pad, SDSC-SHAR
Function Medium-lift launch vehicle
Manufacturer Indian Space Research Organisation
Country of origin India
Cost per launch ₹300–400 crore[1][2] (US$46–62 million) (2017)
Height 43.4 m (142 ft)[3][4]
Diameter 4 m (13 ft)[3]
Mass 640,000 kg (1,410,000 lb)[4]
Stages 3[4]
Payload to LEO (600km) 8,000 kg (18,000 lb)[4]
Payload to GTO 4,000 kg (8,800 lb)[4]
Associated rockets
Family Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle
Launch history
Status Active
Launch sites Satish Dhawan Space Centre SLP, Andhra Pradesh, India
Total launches 2
Successes 2
Failures 0
First flight
  • 18 December 2014 (suborbital)
  • 5 June 2017 (orbital)
Last flight 5 June 2017
Boosters – S200
No. boosters 2
Length 25 m (82 ft)[4]
Diameter 3.2 m (10 ft)[4]
Empty mass 31,000 kg (68,000 lb) each[5]
Gross mass 236,000 kg (520,000 lb) each[5]
Propellant mass 205,000 kg (452,000 lb) each[5]
Motor Solid S200
Thrust 5,150 kN (525 tf) each[6][7][8]
Total thrust 10,300 kN (1,050 tf)
Specific impulse 274.5 (vacuum)[5]
Burn time 128 sec[5]
Fuel HTPB[5]
First stage – L110
Length 21.39 m (70.2 ft)[9]
Diameter 4.0 m (13.1 ft)[5]
Empty mass 9,000 kg (20,000 lb)[9]
Gross mass 125,000 kg (276,000 lb)[9]
Propellant mass 116,000 kg (256,000 lb)[9]
Engines 2 Vikas engines
Thrust 1,598 kN (163.0 tf)[5][10][11]
Specific impulse 293 sec[5]
Burn time 203 sec[9]
Fuel UDMH / N2O4
Second stage – C25
Length 13.545 m (44.44 ft)[5]
Diameter 4.0 m (13.1 ft)[5]
Empty mass 5,000 kg (11,000 lb)[9]
Gross mass 33,000 kg (73,000 lb)[9]
Propellant mass 28,000 kg (62,000 lb)[5]
Engines 1 CE-20
Thrust 200 kN (20 tf)[5]
Specific impulse 443 sec
Burn time 643 sec[5]
Fuel LOX / LH2

The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV-III)[4][12], also referred to as the Launch Vehicle Mark 3 (LVM3)[12] is a three-stage[4] medium-lift launch vehicle developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is designed to launch satellites into geostationary orbit and is intended as a launch vehicle for crewed missions under the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme.[13] The GSLV-III has a higher payload capacity than the similarly named GSLV.[14][15][16][17]

After several delays and a sub-orbital test flight on 18 December 2014, ISRO successfully conducted the first orbital test launch of GSLV-III on 5 June 2017 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Andhra Pradesh.[18] A second orbital test flight is planned for October 2018.

In June 2018, the Union Cabinet approved 4,338 crore (US$600 million) to build 10 GSLV Mk-III rockets over a five-year period.[19]

On 15 August 2018, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in his Independence Day speech[20] an Indian foray into human spaceflight in 2022 with the aim of sending a crewed spacecraft called Gaganyaan to low Earth orbit.[21] The GSLV Mk III will be the launch vehicle for this mission.[22][23]



ISRO initially planned two launcher families, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle for low Earth orbit and polar launches and the larger Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle for payloads to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). The vehicle was reconceptualised as a more powerful launcher as the ISRO mandate changed. This increase in size allowed the launch of heavier communication and multipurpose satellites, future interplanetary exploration and will be human rated to launch crewed missions.[24] Development of the GSLV-III began in the early 2000s, with the first launch planned for 2009–2010.[25] The unsuccessful launch of GSLV D3, due to a failure in the cryogenic upper stage,[25] delayed the GSLV-III development program. The GSLV-III, while sharing a name with the GSLV, it features different systems and components.

S200 static fire tests[edit]

The first static fire test of the S-200 solid rocket booster, ST-01, was conducted on 24 January 2010. The booster fired for 130 seconds and had nominal performance. It generated a peak thrust of about 500 metric tons (1,100,000 lb).[26][7] A second static fire test, ST-02, was conducted on 4 September 2011. The booster fired for 140 seconds and had nominal performance.[27] A third test, ST-03, was conducted on 14 June 2015 to validate the changes from the sub-orbital test flight data.[28][29]

L110 static fire tests[edit]

ISRO conducted the first static test of the L110 core stage at its Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) test facility at Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu on 5 March 2010. The test was planned to last 200 seconds, but was terminated at 150 seconds after a leakage in a control system was detected.[30] A second static fire test for the full duration was conducted on 8 September 2010.[31]

C25 stage tests[edit]

The first static fire test of the C25 cryogenic stage was conducted on 25 January 2017 at the ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC) facility at Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu. The stage was tested for a duration of 50 seconds and had nominal performance.[32]

A second static fire test for the full in-flight duration of 640 seconds was completed on 17 February 2017.[33] This test demonstrated the repeatability of the engine performance along with its sub-systems, including the thrust chamber, gas generator, turbo pumps and control components for the full duration. All of the engine parameters had nominal performance.[33]


After the suborbital test flight of GSLV-III, modifications were made to the vehicle to improve performance. The propellant grain geometry of head end segment was changed to a 13-lobed star configuration from a 10-lobed slotted configuration and propellant load was reduced to 205 metric tons (452,000 lb) to improve performance during transsonic flights.[34] The payload fairing was modified to an ogive shape, and the S200 booster nosecones were slanted to improve aerodynamic performance. The inter-tank structure of the C25 cryogenic stage was redesigned for density.[34]

Vehicle design[edit]

Artistic representation of GSLV-III in the Flight X configuration

The first stage consists of two S200 solid motors, also known as Large Solid Boosters (LSB) attached to the core stage. Each booster is 3.2 metres (10 ft) wide, 25 metres (82 ft) long, and carries 207 metric tons (456,000 lb) tonnes of propellant. The S200 booster uses an HTPB based propellant. It is the largest solid-fuel booster after the Space Shuttle SRBs and Ariane 5 SRBs. The flex nozzles can be vectored using electro-hydraulic actuators and are used for vehicle control during the initial ascent phase.[35][36] These boosters burn for 130 seconds and produce an average thrust of 3,578.2 kilonewtons (804,400 lbf) and a peak thrust of 5,150 kilonewtons (1,160,000 lbf) each.[35][6]

The second stage, designated L110, is a liquid-fueled stage that is 21 metres (69 ft) tall and 4 metres (13 ft) wide, and contains 110 metric tons (240,000 lb) of unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) and nitrogen tetroxide (N2O4). It is powered by two Vikas 2 engines, each generating 766 kilonewtons (172,000 lbf) thrust, giving a total thrust of 1,532 kilonewtons (344,000 lbf).[10][11] The L110 is the first Indian clustered liquid-fueled engine. The Vikas engines uses regenerative cooling, providing improved weight and specific impulse compared to earlier Indian rockets.[35][37] Each Vikas engine can be individually gimbaled to control vehicle pitch, yaw and roll control. The L110 core stage ignites 114 seconds after liftoff and burns for 203 seconds.[35][11]

The cryogenic upper stage, designated C25, is 4 metres (13 ft) in diameter and 13.5 metres (44 ft) long, and contains 28 metric tons (62,000 lb) of propellant LOX and LH2.[37] It is powered by the CE-20 engine, producing 200 kN (45,000 lbf) of thrust. CE-20 is the first cryogenic engine developed by India which uses a gas generator, as compared to the staged combustion engines used in GSLV.[38]

The payload fairing has a diameter of 5 metres (16 ft) and a payload volume of 110 cubic metres (3,900 cu ft).[5]

There is a proposal to include the SCE-200[39] in GSLV-III to increase its payload capacity to 6 metric tons (5.9 long tons; 6.6 short tons) to GTO.[40]

Notable missions[edit]

D1 on its Mobile Launch Pedestal on the way to the launch pad

X (Suborbital flight test)[edit]

The maiden flight of the GSLV-III occurred on 18 December 2014. The flight lifted off from the Second Launch Pad, at 04:00 UTC.[41] The test had functional boosters, a core stage and a non-functional dummy upper stage. It carried the Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) that was tested on re-entry.[42]

Just over five minutes into the flight, the rocket ejected CARE at an altitude of 126 kilometres (78 mi), which then descended, controlled by its on-board motors. During the test CARE’s heat shield experienced a maximum temperature of around 1,000 °C (1,830 °F). ISRO downloaded launch telemetry during the ballistic coasting phase prior to the radio black-out to avoid data loss in the event of a splash-down failure. At an altitude of around 15 kilometres (9.3 mi), the module’s apex cover separated and the parachutes were deployed. CARE splashed down in the Bay of Bengal near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and was recovered successfully.[43][44][45][46]

D1 (GSAT-19)[edit]

The first orbital flight of the GSLV-III occurred on 5 June 2017,[47] lifting off from the Second Launch Pad at 11:58 UTC. The vehicle carried the GSAT-19 communication satellite, making it the heaviest Indian rocket and payload ever launched. The satellite was successfully placed into a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) at 170 kilometres (110 mi). The flight also tested upgrades to the design from data acquired during the sub-orbital test flight.[48][further explanation needed]

Launch history[edit]

Flight № Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Launch site Payload Payload mass Orbit User Launch
X 18 December 2014
04:00 UTC[49]
LVM3-X Second India Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) 3,775 kg (8,322 lb)[50] Sub-orbital ISRO Success
Sub-orbital development test flight with non-functional cryogenic stage[51]
D1 5 June 2017
11:58 UTC[52][53][54]
Mk.III Second India GSAT-19 3,136 kg (6,914 lb) GEO INSAT Success
First orbital test launch with a functional cryogenic stage[55]

Planned launches[edit]

Date / time (UTC) Rocket,
Launch site Payload Orbit User
November 2018[56] Mk.III Second India GSAT-29 GEO INSAT
Flight D2. The satellite weighs 3,700 kg (8,200 lb).[57] Second orbital test flight of the GSLV-III.[58][59][60]
03 January 2019 Mk.III Second India Chandrayaan-2 GEO ISRO
Flight M01.[61] Chandrayaan-2 is India's second lunar exploration mission weighing about 3,877 kilograms (8,547 lb).[62][63][64]
The satellite weighs 3,650 kg (8,050 lb). First operational flight of GSLV MK3.[59]
2022[65] Mk.III TBD India Gaganyaan crewed orbiter LEO Indian Human Spaceflight Programme
Launch mass is 7,800 kg with service module,[66] capsule's mass is 3,735 kg[66]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]