NEW DELHI — India’s space agency has a busy period coming up, with the next launch of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C23) bearing a clutch of foreign satellites slated by the end of June, and an experimental launch of its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-Mk. 3) by the end of July.
Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) say both missions are currently at “different stages” of progress. The next two months will be “very hectic” for the space agency, they say.
The integration of PSLV-C23 has started at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in south India, PSLV Mission Director P. Kunhikrishnan says.
The C-23 is a PSLV-CA (Core Alone) model, meaning that the rocket will not be sporting strap-on motors, Kunhikrishnan says. The rocket will launch the French SPOT-7 Earth observation satellite, along with four micro-satellites.
SPOT-7 will be moved for integration on May 21, accompanied by the smaller satellites, Kunhikrishnan adds.
SPOT is a constellation of high-resolution, optical imaging Earth observation satellites operated by the French space agency. The PSLV placed French the SPOT-6 Earth observation satellite into orbit on Sept. 8, 2012.
The experimental flight of the GSLV-Mk. 3—India’s biggest rocket—originally was planned for May, but ISRO officials have shifted its liftoff to the end of July.
“Work is still progressing on the cryogenic stage,” says M.C. Dathan, director of ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Center (LPSC) at Mahendragiri, near Chennai. The stage will “remain passive” during the experimental flight, he adds.
The two strap-on boosters and the L-110 core stage are ready for integration at Sriharikota.
A plan is currently under way to move the cryogenic stage from the LPSC in Chennai to Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh by the end of June, Dathan says.
The GSLV Mk. 3—the biggest version of the GSLV—is designed to launch communications satellites weighing more than 4 metric tons (8,800 lb.). It also could be used for launching future Indian astronauts.
ISRO’s number of space missions has climbed, with 10 successful launches during the last year, including the country’s first interplanetary mission to Mars. That unmanned probe, named “Maangalyaan,” was launched last year and has completed about 60% of its journey. It will enter Mars orbit in September.