|Function||Medium-lift launch vehicle|
|Country of origin||India|
|Cost per launch||₹500 crore (US$63 million)|
|Height||43.43 m (142.5 ft)|
|Diameter||4 m (13 ft)|
|Mass||640,000 kg (1,410,000 lb)|
|Payload to LEO|
|Mass||10,000 kg (22,000 lb)|
|Payload to GTO|
|Mass||4,000 kg (8,800 lb)|
|Family||Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle|
|Launch sites||Satish Dhawan Space Centre|
|Last flight||26 March 2023|
|Type of passengers/cargo||CARE, Chandrayaan-2, OneWeb|
|First stage – S200 Boosters|
|Height||25 m (82 ft)|
|Diameter||3.2 m (10 ft)|
|Empty mass||31,000 kg (68,000 lb) each|
|Gross mass||236,000 kg (520,000 lb) each|
|Propellant mass||205,000 kg (452,000 lb) each|
|Powered by||Solid S200|
|Maximum thrust||5,150 kN (525 tf)|
|Specific impulse||274.5 seconds (2.692 km/s) (vacuum)|
|Burn time||128 s|
|Second stage – L110|
|Height||21.39 m (70.2 ft)|
|Diameter||4.0 m (13.1 ft)|
|Empty mass||9,000 kg (20,000 lb)|
|Gross mass||125,000 kg (276,000 lb)|
|Propellant mass||116,000 kg (256,000 lb)|
|Powered by||2 Vikas engines|
|Maximum thrust||1,598 kN (163.0 tf)|
|Specific impulse||293 seconds (2.87 km/s)|
|Burn time||203 s|
|Propellant||UDMH / N2O4|
|Third stage – C25|
|Height||13.545 m (44.44 ft)|
|Diameter||4.0 m (13.1 ft)|
|Empty mass||5,000 kg (11,000 lb)|
|Gross mass||33,000 kg (73,000 lb)|
|Propellant mass||28,000 kg (62,000 lb)|
|Powered by||1 CE-20|
|Maximum thrust||186.36 kN (19.003 tf)|
|Specific impulse||442 seconds (4.33 km/s)|
|Burn time||643 s|
|Propellant||LOX / LH2|
The Launch Vehicle Mark-III or LVM3, previously referred as the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III or GSLV Mk III,[a] is a three-stage medium-lift launch vehicle developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Primarily designed to launch communication satellites into geostationary orbit, it is also due to launch crewed missions under the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme. LVM3 has a higher payload capacity than its predecessor, GSLV.
After several delays and a sub-orbital test flight on 18 December 2014, ISRO successfully conducted the first orbital test launch of LVM3 on 5 June 2017 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
Total development cost of project was ₹2,962.78 crore (equivalent to ₹38 billion or US$480 million in 2020). In June 2018, the Union Cabinet approved ₹4,338 crore (equivalent to ₹49 billion or US$620 million in 2020) to build 10 LVM3 rockets over a five-year period.
The LVM3 has launched CARE, India's space capsule recovery experiment module, Chandrayaan-2, India's second lunar mission, and will be used to carry Gaganyaan, the first crewed mission under Indian Human Spaceflight Programme. In March 2022, UK-based global communication satellite provider OneWeb entered into an agreement with ISRO to launch OneWeb satellites aboard the LVM3 along with the PSLV, due to the launch services from Roscosmos being cut off, caused by the Russian Invasion of Ukraine. The first launch took place on 22 October 2022, injecting 36 satellites for Low Earth Orbit.
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 reconceptualized as a more powerful launcher as the ISRO mandate changed. This increase in size allowed the launch of heavier communication and multipurpose satellites, human-rating to launch crewed missions, and future interplanetary exploration. Development of the LVM3 began in the early 2000s, with the first launch planned for 2009–2010. The unsuccessful launch of GSLV D3, due to a failure in the cryogenic upper stage, delayed the LVM3 development program. The LVM3, while sharing a name with the GSLV, features different systems and components.
S200 static fire tests
The first static fire test of the S200 solid rocket booster, ST-01, was conducted on 24 January 2010. The booster fired for 130 seconds and had nominal performance throughout the burn. It generated a peak thrust of about 4,900 kN (1,100,000 lbf). A second static fire test, ST-02, was conducted on 4 September 2011. The booster fired for 140 seconds and again had nominal performance through the test. A third test, ST-03, was conducted on 14 June 2015 to validate the changes from the sub-orbital test flight data.
Human rated variant of S200 or HS200 was developed for the Gaganyaan programme. The first static fire test of HS200 was conducted on 13 May 2022 at Satish Dhawan Space Centre for a duration of 135 seconds with no issues.
L110 static fire tests
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. A second static fire test for the full duration was conducted on 8 September 2010.
C25 stage tests
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 fired for a duration of 50 seconds and performed nominally.
A second static fire test for the full in-flight duration of 640 seconds was completed on 17 February 2017. This test demonstrated consistency in engine performance along with its sub-systems, including the thrust chamber, gas generator, turbopumps and control components for the full duration.
Modifications after LVM3-X
After the suborbital test flight of LVM3, certain modifications were made to the vehicle to improve its performance. The propellant grain geometry of the head end segments were changed from a 10-lobed slotted configuration to a 13-lobed star configuration and propellant load was reduced to 205 tonnes (452,000 lb) to improve performance during transonic phase of flight. The payload fairing was modified to an ogive shape, and the S200 booster nosecones and inter-tank structure were redesigned to have better aerodynamic performance.
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 tonnes (456,000 lb) of hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) based propellant in three segments with casings made out of M250 maraging steel. It is the largest solid-fuel booster after the SLS SRBs, the Space Shuttle SRBs and the Ariane 5 SRBs. The flex nozzles can be vectored up to ±8° using electro-hydraulic actuators operating in blow-down mode and are used for vehicle control during the initial ascent phase. Hydraulic fluid for operating these actuators is stored in an externally mounted cylindrical tank at the base of each booster. 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.
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). The L110 is the first clustered liquid-fueled engine designed in India. The Vikas engines uses regenerative cooling, providing improved weight and specific impulse compared to earlier Indian rockets. 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. Since the L110 stage is air-lit, its engines need shielding during flight from the exhaust of the operating S200 boosters and reverse flow of gases by a 'nozzle closure system' which gets jettisoned prior to L110 ignition.
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, pressurized by helium stored in submerged bottles. It is powered by a single 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.In LVM3-M3 mission, a new white coloured C25 stage was introduced which has more environmental-friendly manufacturing processes, better insulation properties and the use of lightweight materials.The CFRP composite payload fairing has a diameter of 5 metres (16 ft) and a payload volume of 110 cubic metres (3,900 cu ft).
Variants and upgrades
Mating with semi-cryogenic stage
The L110 core stage in the LVM3 is planned to be replaced by the SC120, a kerolox stage powered by the SCE-200 engine to increase its payload capacity to 7.5 metric tons (17,000 lb) to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). The SCE-200 uses kerosene instead of unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) as fuel and has a thrust of around 200 tonnes. Four such engines can be clustered in a rocket without strap on boosters to deliver up to 10 tonnes (22,000 lb) to GTO. The first propellant tank for the SC120 was delivered in October 2021 by HAL.
The SC120-powered version of GSLV will not be used for the crewed mission of the Gaganyaan spacecraft.
In September 2019, in an interview by AstrotalkUK, S. Somanath, director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre claimed that the SCE-200 engine was ready to begin testing. As per an agreement between India and Ukraine signed in 2005, Ukraine was expected to test components of the SCE-200 engine, so an upgraded version of the LVM3 was not expected before 2022.
The SCE-200 engine is reported to be based on the Ukrainian RD-810, which itself is proposed for use on the Mayak family of launch vehicles.
Induction of C32 stage
The C25 stage with nearly 25 t (55,000 lb) propellant load will be replaced by the C32, with a higher propellant load of 32 t (71,000 lb). The C32 stage will be re-startable and with uprated CE-20 engine. Total mass of avionics will be brought down by using miniaturised components. On 30 November 2020, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited delivered an aluminium alloy based cryogenic tank to ISRO. The tank has a capacity of 5,755 kg (12,688 lb) of fuel, and a volume of 89 m3 (3,100 cu ft).
- On 9 November 2022, CE-20 cryogenic engine of upper stage was tested with an uprated thrust regime of 21.8 tonnes in November 2022. Along a suitable stage with additional propellant loading this could increase payload capacity of LVM3 to GTO by up to 450 kg (990 lb) .
- On 23 December 2022, CE-20 engine E9 was hot tested for 650 second duration. For the first 40 seconds of test, the engine was operated at 20.2 tonne thrust level, after this engine was operated at 20 tonne off-nominal zones and then for 435 seconds it was operated at 22.2 tonne thrust level. With this test, the 'E9' engine has been qualified for induction in flight.
While the LVM3 is being human rated for Gaganyaan project, the rocket was always designed with potential human spaceflight applications in consideration. The maximum acceleration during ascent phase of flight was limited to 4 Gs for crew comfort and a 5-metre (16 ft)diameter payload fairing was used to be able to accommodate large modules like space station segments.
Furthermore, a number of changes to make safety-critical subsystems reliable are planned for lower operating margins, redundancy, stringent qualification requirements, revaluation, and strengthening of components.
- Quad-redundant Navigation and Guidance Computer (NGC)
- Dual chain Telemetry & Telecommand Processor (TTCP)
- Integrated Health Monitoring System (LVHM)
- High Thrust Vikas engines (HTVE) of L110 core stage will operate at a chamber pressure of 58.5 bar instead of 62 bar.
- Human rated S200 (HS200) boosters will operate at chamber pressure of 55.5 bar instead of 58.8 bar. Segment joints will have three O-rings each.
- Electro mechanical actuators and digital stage controllers will be employed in HS200, L110 and C25 stages.
Testing and qualification
- On 16 December 2021, CE20 (E9 engine) was tested to demonstrate the redundancy of engine ignition capability as part of human rating LVM3. Two ignition trial tests of 3.2 seconds duration were conducted nominally followed by a nominal hot test of 50 seconds duration.
- On 12 January 2022, CE-20 engine E9 completed 720 second long qualification test for Gaganyaan programme.
- On 9 November 2022, CE-20 engine E9 was hot tested for 70 seconds. During this test the engine operated at thrust level of approximately 20 tonnes for the first 40 seconds and then switched to an uprated thrust regime of 21.8 tonnes lasting ~30 seconds.
- The S200 strap-ons flown on LVM3-M3/OneWeb India-2 mission had enhanced margins and other human rating relating features like three O-rings in sealing joint instead of just two, 1.5 times thicker insulation than usual etc. Human rated HS200 motor was static tested earlier on 13 May 2022.
X (Suborbital flight test)
The maiden flight of the LVM3 lifted off from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Center on 18 December 2014 at 04:00 UTC. The test had functional boosters, a core stage but carried dummy upper stage. It also carried the Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) that was tested on re-entry.
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 onboard reaction control system. During the test, CARE's heat shield experienced a peak temperature of around 1,000 °C (1,830 °F). ISRO downlinked launch telemetry during the ballistic coasting phase until the radio black-out to avoid data loss in the event of a 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.
The first orbital flight of the LVM3 occurred on 5 June 2017, 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 suborbital test flight.
The first operational flight occurred on 22 July 2019, lifting off from the Second Launch pad at 9:13 UTC. The rocket carried Chandrayaan-2, India's second mission to the Moon, consisting of an orbiter, lander and a rover. The Chandrayaan-2 stack is the heaviest spacecraft launched by ISRO.
M2 (36 OneWeb satellites)
This was the first commercial launch of LVM3 that occurred on 22 October 2022, which helped India to enter the global market for heavier payloads. This was also the first launch to a polar low earth orbit and the first multi-satellite mission of LVM3, launched by ISRO, carrying a payload of about 6 tons.
M3 (36 OneWeb satellites)
ISRO-NSIL again successfully deployed another set of 36 OneWeb satellites on 26 March 2023. It is the heaviest payload that is launched by a LVM3 and ISRO to date.
|Flight No.||Date / time (UTC)||Rocket,
|Launch site||Payload||Payload mass||Orbit||User||Launch |
|X||18 December 2014
|LVM3||Second||Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE)||3,775 kg (8,322 lb)||Sub-orbital||ISRO||Success|
|Sub-orbital development test flight with a non-functional cryogenic stage|
|D1||5 June 2017
|LVM3||Second||GSAT-19||3,136 kg (6,914 lb)||GTO||INSAT||Success|
|First orbital test launch with a functional cryogenic stage|
|D2||14 November 2018
|LVM3||Second||GSAT-29||3,423 kg (7,546 lb)||GTO||INSAT||Success|
|Second orbital test flight. L110 core used upgraded High Thrust Vikas Engines (HTVE).|
|M1||22 July 2019
|LVM-3||Second||Chandrayaan-2||3,850 kg (8,490 lb)||EPO||ISRO||Success|
|First operational flight of LVM3.|
|M2||22 October 2022
|LVM3||Second||OneWeb × 36||5,796 kg (12,778 lb)||LEO||OneWeb||Success|
|First commercial launch of LVM3 for OneWeb. Launch of 36 OneWeb satellites to 605 km (376 mi) circular polar orbit.|
|M3||26 March 2023
|LVM3||Second||OneWeb × 36||5,805 kg (12,798 lb)||LEO||OneWeb||Success|
|Second commercial launch of LVM3 for OneWeb. It is the heaviest payload that is launched by a LVM3 and ISRO to date.|
NOTE: The dates mentioned below might change in the future.
|Date / time (UTC)||Rocket,
|12 July 2023||LVM3||Second Launch Pad||Chandrayaan-3||TLI|
|Mission repeat of Chandrayaan-2 with a lunar lander and rover. designated as flight M4.|
|Mid 2024||HLVM3||Second Launch Pad||G1||LEO|
|First uncrewed orbital demonstration flight of India's crew module.|
|NET 2024||HLVM3||Second Launch Pad||G2||LEO|
|Second uncrewed orbital demonstration flight of crew module.|
|December 2024||LVM3||Second Launch Pad||Shukrayaan-1||TBD|
|Launch mass is 2,500 kg (5,500 lb); Venus orbiter and atmospheric balloon.|
|NET 2024||LVM3||Second Launch Pad||Mangalyaan 2||TBD|
|India's second orbiter mission to Mars.|
|2025||HLVM3||Second Launch Pad||H1||LEO|
|India's first crewed mission. Launch mass is 7,800 kg (17,200 lb) with service module, capsule's mass is 3,735 kg (8,234 lb).|
|TBA||LVM3||Second Launch Pad||GSAT-20 (CMS-03)||GTO|
|TBA||LVM3||Second Launch Pad||GSAT-22||GTO|
|TBA||LVM3||Second Launch Pad||GSAT-7B||GTO|
|TBA||LVM3||Second Launch Pad||GSAT-7C||GTO|
|Indian Air Force satellite|
|TBA||LVM3||Second Launch Pad||GSAT-7R||GTO|
|Replacement satellite for Indian Navy's GSAT-7.|
|TBA||LVM3||Second Launch Pad||GSAT-32||GTO|
|Planned replacement for GSAT-6A.|
Decade-wise summary of LVM3 launches:
- Comparison of orbital launchers families
- Comparison of orbital launch systems
- Gaganyaan – Crewed Indian spacecraft
- Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle
- List of Indian satellites
- Medium-lift launch vehicle – Capable of lifting between 2,000 and 20,000 kg (4,400 and 44,100 lb) of payload into Low Earth orbit
- Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle
- Unified Launch Vehicle – Planned medium-to-heavy-lift rocket family to expand the Indian space program and Indian human spaceflight
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