India’s GSLV-Mk III Booster Makes Successful Debut

GSLV Mk III booster lifts off. (Credit: ISRO)

India’s new GSLV Mk III booster made a successful maiden orbital flight on Monday, lofting the GSAT-19 into orbit, according to ISRO.

The three-stage booster is capable of launching satellites weighing 4 metric tons into geosynchronous transfer orbit and 8 metric tons to low Earth orbit. That capability is double that of the GSLV-Mk II, which was previously the nation’s most powerful booster.

This was the second flight test of the new launcher. A successful suborbital flight to test the first stage and its two solid-motor strap-on boosters was conducted in December 2014.

About the Launch Vehicle
(Via ISRO)

GSLV Mk III is a three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle developed by ISRO. The vehicle has two solid strap-ons, a core liquid booster and a cryogenic upper stage.

GSLV Mk III is designed to carry 4 ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which is about twice the capability of GSLV Mk II.

The two strap-on motors of GSLV Mk III are located on either side of its core liquid booster. Designated as ‘S200’, each carries 205 tons of composite solid propellant and their ignition results in vehicle lift -off . S200s function for 140 seconds. During strap-ons functioning phase, the two clustered Vikas liquid Engines of L110 liquid core booster will ignite 114 sec after lift -off to further augment the thrust of the vehicle. These two engines continue to function after the separation of the strap-ons at about 140 seconds after lift -off.

The first experimental flight of LVM3, the LVM3-X/CARE mission lifted off from Sriharikota on December 18, 2014 and successfully tested the atmospheric phase of flight. Crew module Atmospheric Reentry Experiment was also carried out in this flight. The module reentered, deployed its parachutes as planned and splashed down in the Bay of Bengal.

The first developmental flight of GSLV Mk III, the GSLV-Mk III-D1 successfully placed GSAT-19 satellite to a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) on June 05, 2017 from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota.

Vehicle Specifications

Height : 43.43 m
Vehicle Diameter : 4.0 m
Heat Shield (Payload Fairing) Diameter : 5.0 m
Number of Stages : 3
Lift Off Mass : 640 tonnes

  • Kapitalist

    I like their eight armed launch tower design. It celebrates the divinities of their ancient culture. I do think that this stuff, the ancient longing to the Heavens, is still important for the psychology of human space flight. Each launch is a moment of worship before that which we do not understand because it is yet unknown.

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/89/S344_durga-idol-golden.png

  • Congrats to ISRO, great work. May your Titan IIIE serve you longer and even better than America’s.

  • 43m tall in all. 630t GLOW.

    Regarding performance, it is pretty good. A reminder, this thing has ~GTO performance of F9-R while costing less for the launch service.

    Interestingly enough, the hypergolic stage is not used as a sustainer, but as an air fired second stage (the two engines fire some seconds before the boosters burn out). This is why the whole stack is that short (look at where the S2/3 interstage is
    in the diagram). It is an inelegant, poor payload fraction approach, but it works.

  • windbourne

    ah no.
    MK III does 4 tonnes to GTO while F9-R does >5.5 tonnes to GTO for ~$40M.
    the MK II charges $37M to launch less than 2.5 tonnes.
    Presumably, the MKIII will charge more, or they are simply dumping on the global market.

  • windbourne

    yeah, Durga is the warrior ‘goddess’.
    In fact, many of the hindu ‘god/goddess’ are multi-armed, depending on the art work.

  • Running the fundamentals from the public info we have reveals that the 4t GTO-1800 performance for Mk 3 is heavily sandbagged (and the 4t ISRO goal was from 2014).

    Moreover, F9-R currently (block 3 S1 with block 4 S2) cannot do >5.5t to GTO. SpaceX is selling on their website F9-R @ $62M base price for up to 5.5t to GTO-1800.

    The reason for my statement above was to acknowledge that GSLV Mk 3 – while inefficient in payload fraction – is pretty competitive in GTO $/kg. Also, India had to develop it as a government launcher, so as to have this cap independently.

  • publiusr

    The R-7 petal pad is still my favorite. But this is up there with it.