India's game-changer rocket to be launched soon

India is planning to launch Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark-III, the country's most powerful rocket, next month. The rocket is capable of transporting a heavier 4-tonne communications satellite and described as a game-changer in the first-of-its-kind space mission.

With this rocket, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is aiming for a greater share of the multi-billion dollar global space market and to reduce dependency on international launching vehicles.

A successful launch of this rocket will be yet another major step towards being self-reliant in the country’s space programme.

The Isro currently has the capability to launch payloads of up to 2.2 tonnes into the intended orbit and for anything above that it had to tap foreign launch facilities.

“GSLV Mark-III is our next launch. We are getting ready. All the systems are in Sriharikota. The integration is currently going on,” Isro chairman A S Kiran Kumar said.

GSLV Mark-III will be India’s most powerful launch vehicle built to lift the heaviest Indian communications satellites to space. It can put satellites weighing 4 tonnes in space, double the weight that the current GSLV-Mark-II can lift. It will also enable Isro to launch from India heavier communications spacecraft to geostationary orbits of 36,000 km. Because of the absence of a powerful launcher, Isro currently launches satellites above 2 tonnes on European rockets for a big fee.

Noting that communications satellites built beyond the capacity of 2.2 tonnes have to be launched from foreign soil, Kiran Kumar said efforts are on to launch satellites up to four tonnes and even beyond in India itself.

The GSLV Mark-III is intended to launch satellites into geostationary orbit and as a launcher for an Indian crew vehicle. It features an Indian cryogenic third stage and a higher payload capacity than the current GSLV.