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ISRO’s Launch Vehicles Get High Thrust Spacecraft Lifting Power

High Thrust Version of Vikas Engine that successfully qualified through a ground test for duration of 195 seconds (over three minutes) on Sunday July 15, 2018 at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Mahendragiri, Tamilnadu will add muscle to spacecraft lifting power of all the three satellite launch vehicles of ISRO. Vikas Engine is the workhorse liquid rocket engine powering second stage of India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), second stage and four strap on stages of Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and twin engine core liquid stage (L110) of GSLV Mk-III.

All propulsion parameters during the tests were found satisfactory and closely matched predictions. This ground test has validated performance adequacy of the Vikas Engine for its use in upcoming second developmental flight of GSLV Mk-III. This engine will improve payload capability of PSLV, GSLV and GSLV Mk-III launch vehicles.

Vikas Engine, is named after Vikram Ambalai Sarabhai (12 August 1919 – 30 December 1971), an Indian scientist and innovator widely regarded as the father of India’s space programme. Sarabhai received Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Medai in 1962, was awarded Padam Bhushan in 1966 and Padam Vibhushan (posthumously) in 1972.

  • Vikas engine is a family of liquid fuelled rocket engines conceptualized and designed by the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre in the 1970s.
  • Vikas engine’s design was based on licensed version of the Viking engine with chemical pressurisation system.
  • Vikas engines used some imported French components in early production, which were later replaced by domestically produced equivalents.
  • Vikas engine is used to power second stage PSLV, boosters and second stage of GSLV Mark I and II and first stage of GSLV Mark III.
  • Vikas engine’s propellant loading in PSLV, GSLV Mark I and II is 40 tons, while in GSLV Mark III it is 55 tons.
  • Vikas engine uses UDMH (Unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine) and Nitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) as oxidizer with a maximum thrust of 725 kN.
  • High Thrust Version of Vikas Engine has a chamber pressure of 58.5 bar as compared to 52.5 bar in the older version and produces a thrust of 800 kN.
  • This engine is capable of gimballing. A gimbalis a pivoted support that allows rotation of an object about a single axis.

High Thrust Version of Vikas Engine’s main beneficiary is said to be the heavy-lifting GSLV-Mark III launcher, which ISRO expects will now put 4000 kg satellites to space. This would be the third Mk-III and first working one to be designated MkIII Mission-1 or M1.

GSLV Mk III-D1 launched first developmental flight, carrying 3136 kg GSAT-19 satellite to a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) on Monday, June 05, 2017 from the Second Launch Pad (SLP) at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota. The vehicle is configured with a 5 m ogive payload fairing and slanted strap-on nose cone to provide aerodynamic robustness.GSLV-Mk III is capable launching 4 ton class of satellites to Geosynchronous Transfer orbit (GTO). It is a three-stage vehicle with two solid motor strap-ons (S200), a liquid propellant core stage (L110) and a cryogenic stage (C25).

GSLV-F08/GSAT-6A Mission: GSLV-F08 was the12th flight of GSLV and 6th flight with indigenous Cryogenic Stage. The Launch of GSLV-F08 carrying GSAT-6A took place from the Second Launch Pad (SLP) in Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota on Thursday, March 29, 2018 at 16:56 Hrs.

GSLV-MkIII-D2/GSAT-29 Mission: using the High Thrust Vikas Engine is scheduled to be launched during the second half of 2018. GSAT-29 is configured around ISRO’s Enhanced I-3K Bus and will be the payload for second developmental flight of GSLV-MkIII. It carries Ka x Ku multi-beam and optical communication payloads for the first time. The mission targets for Village Resource Centres (VRC) in rural areas to bridge the digital divide.

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