Eleven indigenous launches of 16 communications and remote-sensing spacecraft are planned by India up to 2003 as part of its next, $3.48 billion, five-year space plan, says India's space-research organisation (ISRO).

Up to five of the spacecraft will be a new series of Insat 3 direct-broadcast communications satellites (Flight International, 16-22 April). India has also registered 29 spacecraft positions in geostationary orbit to ensure that international commercial organisations do not stifle the country's communications-satellite plans.

ISRO, meanwhile, has successfully test-fired a flight-configuration version of the L-40 liquid-propellant strap-on stage of India's Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) for the full duration of 160s at Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu.

Four 60t-thrust, 19.6m-long L-40 motors will help power the GSLV first stage, which could be launched on its maiden flight from Sriharikota Island in June 1988, carrying India's GSat-1 experimental communications satellite.

The GSat, which will weigh about 2,000kg, will be used to demonstrate the payload capability of the 440t, 50m-tall GSLV. The booster's payload capability will eventually reach the 2,500kg weight required to launch the Insat 3s.

The GSLV's third stage will initially be boosted by a 69kN (15,500lb)-thrust Russian KVD-1 liquid-oxygen/liquid-hydrogen, cryogenic engine which will eventually be replaced, after seven Russian-assisted GSLV flights, by a similar indigenously developed 76kN engine called the CS. The GSLV's core first stage and second stages are based on those of the operational PSLV.

Source: Flight International