Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle

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Artist representation of GSLV Mk II
Function Medium Lift Launch System
Manufacturer ISRO
Country of origin India
Cost per launch Mk II ₹2.2 billion($36 million) [1]
Height 49.13 metres (161.2 ft)[2]
Diameter 2.8 metres (9 ft 2 in)
Mass 414,750 kilograms (914,370 lb)
Stages 3
Payload to
5,000 kilograms (11,000 lb)[2]
Payload to
2,500 kilograms (5,500 lb)[2]
Launch history
Status Active
Launch sites Satish Dhawan
Total launches 9 (6 Mk.I, 3 Mk.II)
Successes 4 (2 Mk.I, 2 Mk.II)
Failures 4 (3 Mk.I, 1 Mk.II)
Partial failures 1 (Mk.I)
First flight Mk.I: 18 April 2001
Mk.II: 15 April 2010
No boosters Four
Engines 1 L40H Vikas 2
Thrust 760 kilonewtons (170,000 lbf)
Total thrust 3,040 kilonewtons (680,000 lbf)
Specific impulse 262 sec
Burn time 160 seconds
Fuel N2O4/UDMH
First Stage
Engines 1 S139
Thrust 4,700 kilonewtons (1,100,000 lbf)
Specific impulse 237 sec
Burn time 100 seconds
Fuel HTPB (solid)
Second Stage
Engines 1 GS2 Vikas 4
Thrust 800 kilonewtons (180,000 lbf)[2]
Specific impulse 295 s (2.89 kN·s/kg)
Burn time 150 seconds
Fuel N2O4/UDMH
Third Stage (GSLV Mk.I) - 12KRB
Engines 1 KVD-1
Thrust 69 kilonewtons (16,000 lbf)
Specific impulse 460 s (4.5 kN·s/kg)
Burn time 720 seconds
Fuel LOX/LH2
Third Stage (GSLV Mk.II) - CUS12
Engines 1 CE-7.5
Thrust 75 kilonewtons (17,000 lbf)
Specific impulse 454 seconds (4.45 km/s)
Burn time 720 seconds
Fuel LOX/LH2

GeoSynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (Hindi: भूस्थिर उपग्रह प्रक्षेपण यान), abbreviated in English as GSLV, is an expendable launch system operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It was developed to enable India to launch its satellites without dependence on foreign rockets and providers. GSLV has been used in nine launches to date, since its first launch in 2001 through to its most recent launch on August 27, 2015 of the GSAT-6.


The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) project was initiated in 1990 with the objective of acquiring an Indian government launch capability for geosynchronous satellites.[3] India has depended on the United States and Europe for the launch of INSAT class of satellites.[4]

GSLV uses major components that are already proven in the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) launchers in the form of the S125/S139 solid rocket booster and the liquid-fueled Vikas engine. The third stage was procured from Russian company Glavcosmos based on an agreement signed in 1991.[4] Russia backed out of the deal after US sanctions were imposed in May 1992. ISRO started the Cryogenic Upper Stage Project in April 1994 and began developing its own cryogenic stage.[5] Russia agreed to sell 7 cryogenic stages and 1 ground mock-up stage instead of 5 cryogenic stages and the technology to build the stages.[6]

The first development flight of GSLV Mk.I (GSLV-D1) was launched on 18 April 2001.[7] The flight carrying GSAT-1 failed to reach the correct orbit. Attempts to save GSAT-1 by using its own propulsion system to manoeuvre it into the correct orbit were unsuccessful as it ran out of fuel several thousand kilometres below geosynchronous orbit.[8]

The GSLV became operational after a second development flight, which successfully placed GSAT-2 in 2003. In its first operational flight in September 2004, GSLV launched EDUSAT - India's first dedicated satellite for educational services. However, the second operational flight, GSlV-F02, conducted on July 10, 2006 did not succeed in placing the satellite IN×–T-4C into orbit.

GSLV-F04 is the fifth flight of India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), launched INSAT-4CR satellite, into a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) of 170 km perigee and 35,975 km apogee with an orbital inclination of 21.7° with respect to the equator on 2 September 2007. Subsequently, the satellite was manoeuvred into geostationary orbit using its own propulsion system.

Two launches in 2010 failed; the first, in April 2010, was the first flight of the GSLV Mk.II, with an Indian-developed third stage engine replacing the Russian engine used on earlier flights. The third stage failed to ignite. The next launch, in December 2010, used the Russian engine, however the vehicle went out of control during first stage flight and was destroyed by range safety.[8]

GSLV-D5, launched on 5 January 2014, was the first successful flight of the GSLV Mark.II using the indigenously developed cryogenic engine, the CE-7.5.[9][10]

Vehicle description[edit]

The 49 metres (161 ft) tall GSLV, with a lift-off mass of 415 tonnes (457 tons), is a three-stage vehicle with solid, liquid and cryogenic stages respectively. The payload fairing, which is 7.8 metres (26 ft) long and 3.4 metres (11 ft) in diameter, protects the vehicle electronics and the spacecraft during its ascent through the atmosphere. It is discarded when the vehicle reaches an altitude of about 115 km.[11]

GSLV employs S-band telemetry and C-band transponders for enabling vehicle performance monitoring, tracking, range safety / flight safety and preliminary orbit determination. The Redundant Strap Down Inertial Navigation System/Inertial Guidance System of GSLV housed in its equipment bay guides the vehicle from lift-off to spacecraft injection. The digital auto-pilot and closed loop guidance scheme ensure the required attitude manoeuvre and guide injection of the spacecraft to the specified orbit.

The GSLV can place approximately 5,000 kg (11,000 lb) into an easterly low Earth orbit. With the GSLV Mk.I, using the Russian 12KRB upper stage, with KVD-1 cryogenic rocket engine, GSLV can place 2,200 kg (4,900 lb) into an 18° geostationary transfer orbit. The GSLV Mk.II uses an indigenous cryogenic engine, the CE-7.5 in the third stage instead of the Russian cryogenic engine.

Liquid boosters[edit]

The first GSLV flight, GSLV-D1 used the L40 engine. Subsequent flights of the GSLV used high pressure engines in the strap-on boosters called the L40H.[12] The GSLV uses four L40H liquid strap-on boosters derived from the L37.5 second stage, which are loaded with 40 tons of hypergolic propellants (UDMH & N2O4). The propellants are stored in tandem in two independent tanks 2.1 m diameter. The engine is pump-fed and generates 680 kN (150,000 lbf) of thrust, with a burn time of 149 seconds.

First stage[edit]

GSLV-D1 used the S125 stage which contained 125 tonnes of solid propellant and had a burn time of 100 seconds. All subsequent launches have used enhanced propellant loaded S139 stage.[12] The S139 stage is 2.8 m in diameter and has a nominal burn time of 109 seconds.[13] The stage generates a maximum thrust of 4700 kN.[14]

Second stage[edit]

The GS2 stage is powered by the Vikas engine. It has 2.8 m diameter.[13][dead link]

Third stage[edit]

CUS third stage of GSLV Mk.II D3
10:1 scaled down model of the GSLV at Nehru planetarium in Mumbai

The third stage of the GSLV Mk.II is propelled by the CE-7.5, an indigenous cryogenic rocket engine, 2.8 m in diameter and uses liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen (LOX)[15] The indigenous cryogenic engine was built at the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre in Valiamala, Kerala & Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu.[16][17] This makes India one of the 6 countries which are capable of producing cyrogenic engines.


GSLV rockets using the Russian Cryogenic Stage (CS) are designated as the GSLV Mk I while versions using the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) are designated the GSLV Mk II.[18] All GSLV launches have been conducted from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

GSLV Mk I (a)[edit]

This variant had a 125 t (S-125) first stage and was capable of launching 1500 kg into geostationary transfer orbit. This variant is retired.[19]

GSLV Mk I (b)[edit]

This variant had 139 t (S-139) first stage and improved fuel in the strap-on boosters and second stage. This variant can launch 1900 kg into geostationary transfer orbit.[19][dead link]

GSLV Mk I (c)[edit]

This variant has a 15 tonne propellant loading in the third stage, called the C-15. GSLV-F06 (flight 6) is the only attempted launch of the Mark I(c) version to date.[20]

GSLV Mk II[edit]

This variant uses an Indian cryogenic engine, the CE-7.5, and is capable of launching 2500 kg into geostationary transfer orbit. Previous GSLV vehicles (GSLV Mk.I) have used Russian cryogenic engines.[21]

Launch history[edit]

Flight Launch date/time (UTC) Variant Launch pad Payload Payload mass Result
D1 18 April 2001
Mk I(a) First GSAT-1 1540 kg Failure[8][22]
Developmental Flight, payload placed into lower than planned orbit, and did not have sufficient fuel to reach a usable orbit.[8] ISRO claimed the launch to be successful[23] and claims GSAT-1 as failure.[24]
D2 8 May 2003
Mk I(a) First GSAT-2 1825 kg Success
Developmental Flight[25]
F01 20 September 2004
Mk I(b) First GSAT-3 1950 kg Success
First operational flight[26]
F02 10 July 2006
Mk I(b) Second INSAT-4C 2168 kg Failure
Both rocket and satellite had to be destroyed over the Bay of Bengal after the rocket's trajectory veered outside permitted limits.
F04 2 September 2007
Mk I(b) Second INSAT-4CR 2160 kg Partial failure[27]
Apogee lower and inclination higher than expected, due to an error in the guidance subsystem.[28] Eventually the 2160 kg payload reached the designated geostationary transfer orbit.[29][30] Minor error in orbit inclination corrected by satellite mission operators. Satellite is fully operational and full design life of ten years will be achieved. It completed 6 years in orbit successfully [31] ISRO claims this GSLV flight to be successful.
D3 15 April 2010
Mk II Second GSAT-4 2220 kg Failure
First flight test of the ISRO designed and built Cryogenic Upper Stage. Failed to reach orbit due to malfunction of the Fuel Booster Turbo Pump (FBTP) of the cryogenic upper stage.[32]
F06 25 December 2010
Mk I(c) Second GSAT-5P 2130 kg Failure
First flight of GSLV Mk.I (c) Destroyed by range safety officer after loss of control over liquid-fueled boosters.[33]
D5 5 January 2014
Mk II Second GSAT-14 1980 kg Success[9]


The flight was scheduled for 19 August 2013, but one hour and 14 minutes before the lift off, a leakage was reported and the launch was halted.[34]

Second flight of GSLV with indigenous cryogenic upper stage (CUS) developed by ISRO's Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) was launched successfully on 5 January 2014.[35][36] It was a launch with precision of 40 metres (130 ft). All the three stages performed successfully.[37][38] This was the first successful flight of the cryogenic stage which was developed indigenously in India.[39]

D6[40][41] 27 August 2015
Mk II Second GSAT-6 2117 kg Success
GSLV Mk2-D6 with an Indigenous Cryogenic Engine (ICE) successfully ferried GSAT-6 payload into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) with injection parameters of 170 km x 35945 km, 19.96 degree inclination. The cuboid-shaped GSAT-6 satellite includes a technology demonstrator S-Band unfurlable antenna with a diameter of six metre which will provide S-band communication services during its expected mission life of nine years.[42]
Planned launches
F05 August 2016 MK II Second INSAT-3DR 2200  kg
FXX December 2016 MK II SAARC Satellite 2000 kg
F08 2017
Mk II Second Chandrayaan 2
F09 May 2017
Mk II Second GSAT-9 2330  kg

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Indian rocket GSLV D5 with indigenous cryogenic engine successfully launched". dnaindia. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle". Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  3. ^ "GSLV Launched Successfully" (PDF). Current Science 80 (10): 1256. May 2001. Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Subramanian, T S (March 17–31, 2001). "The GSLV Quest". Frontline. Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  5. ^ Raj, N Gopal (21 April 2011). "The long road to cryogenic technology". The Hindu (Chennai, India). Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  6. ^ Subramanian, T S (28 April – 11 May 2001). "The cryogenic quest". Frontline. Retrieved 13 December 2013. 
  7. ^ "SPACE LAUNCH VEHICLES". Archived from the original on August 24, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d Kyle, Ed (28 December 2010). "Page 2 of 2: Comprehensive Orbital Launch Failure List". India (SLV/ASLV/PSLV/GSLV) Flight History by Variant/Year (1979-2010). Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "GSLV-D5-Success". ISRO. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Subramanian, T.S. (5 January 2014). "GSLV-D5 Launch Success". Chennai, India: The Hindu. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  11. ^ "GSLV-F04". ISRO. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  12. ^ a b "GSLV-D2". ISRO. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "GSLV D3". ISRO. Retrieved November 27, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Evolution of Indian launch vehicle technologies" (PDF). Current Science. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  15. ^ "GSLV-D5". Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  16. ^ "ISRO's Cryogenic Stage Fails in Maiden Flight". Space News. Retrieved November 27, 2013. 
  17. ^ "GSLV, PSLV flights put off". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 1 January 2010. 
  18. ^ "GSLV-D3/GSAT-4 Brochure" (PDF). ISRO. Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  19. ^ a b "Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle". ISRO. Archived from the original on August 24, 2011. 
  20. ^ "GSLV-F06". ISRO. Archived from the original on August 10, 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2014. 
  21. ^ Clark, Stephen (2010-10-12). "India may seek international help on cryogenic engine". SPACEFLIGHT NOW. Retrieved 15 July 2011. Besides the new upper stage, the GSLV Mk.2 launched in April was nearly identical to previous versions of the booster. 
  22. ^ "Isro clears launch of GSLV-D5". Business Standard. 31 December 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  23. ^ "GSLV Launched Successfully". ISRO. Retrieved 13 December 2013. 
  24. ^ "Press Brief on GSLV-D1/GSAT-1". ISRO. Retrieved 13 December 2013. 
  25. ^ "GSLV-D2 Mission". ISRO. Archived from the original on August 24, 2012. 
  26. ^ "EDUSAT mission". ISRO. Archived from the original on August 24, 2012. 
  27. ^ "First manoeuvre to raise satellite’s orbit". Sriharikota: The Hindu. Retrieved November 19, 2015. 
  28. ^ Clark, Stephen (2 September 2007). "India's large satellite launcher returns to flight". Spaceflight Now. 
  29. ^ "INSAT-4CR successfully placed in orbit". Times of India. 2 September 2007. 
  30. ^ "GSLV-F04 Launch Successful - Places INSAT-4CR in orbit". ISRO. Archived from the original on August 24, 2012. 
  31. ^ "ISRO refutes INSAT-4CR `disappearance' story". Hindustan Times. 
  32. ^ "GSLV-D3 Failure Analysis Report". ISRO. 
  33. ^ "Rocket failed after 45 seconds, says ISRO". Hindustan Times. 25 December 2010. Retrieved 25 December 2010. 
  34. ^ "GSLV-D5 rocket launch delayed, countdown clock stopped due to leak in second stage". NDTV. Retrieved November 27, 2013. 
  35. ^ Varma, M. Dinesh (31 October 2013). "Another shot at GSLV with indigenous cryogenic engine". The Hindu (Chennai, India). Retrieved November 27, 2013. 
  36. ^ "Preparations in full swing for Dec 15 GSLV mission". Hindustan Times. Retrieved November 27, 2013. 
  37. ^ "GSAT-14 Separated". Twitter. January 5, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  38. ^ "Performance of Cryogenic stage of GSLV D5 normal. Ignition sustained.". Twitter. January 5, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  39. ^ "Isro successfully launches indigenous cryogenic engine-powered GSLV-D5". The Times Of India. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  40. ^ "GSAT 6". Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  41. ^ "GSAT-6 slated for March launch". Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  42. ^ "ISRO's GSLV D-6 puts GSAT-6 satellite in orbit". The Hindu. 27 August 2015. 
  43. ^
  44. ^ "India's satellite 'gift' for SAARC to be up in Dec 2016". 
  45. ^ "Chandrayaan 2". Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  46. ^ "GSat 9". Retrieved 7 July 2014. 

External links[edit]