The Indian government has given the go-ahead for the development of an augmented version of the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), which made its successful maiden flight in April 2001.

The 401t, three-stage GSLV, equipped with a Russian-supplied upper cryogenic engine stage, features the first two stages derived from India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The proposed GSLV Mark-3 version will be capable of launching a 4,000kg (8,800lb) satellite payload into geostationary transfer orbit. ISRO sources say the new version, which will be ready by 2008, will be a three-stage vehicle with a 110t core liquid propellant stage and a strap-on stage with two solid propellant motors and 200t of propellant. The upper stage of the GSLV Mark 3 will be an indigenous cryogenic engine. Current plans call for the GSLV Mark 3 to have a lift-off weight of about 630t.

India started the development of the GSLV with the objective of attaining an independent capability for launching its 2,000kg Insat domestic spacecraft.

ISRO is preparing for the second flight of the GSLV, which is planned before the end of this year, to launch a 1,800kg G-Sat-2 experimental communications satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit from the Sriharikota launch complex in the Bay of Bengal.

Meanwhile, ISRO has set up a task force to study a mission to the moon. The task force is studying the feasibility of using a PSLV variant featuring alternate liquid and solid fuel stages or the three-stage GSLV equipped with an upper cryogenic stage.

Source: Flight International