THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Scheduled for lift-off on Wednesday, the PSLV-C48 mission will mark a milestone on many counts in the history of the evolution of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The C48 mission would be the 50th flight of the PSLV, described as the ISRO’s reliable workhorse over the years. But there is more that makes the 50th flight special. For the first time, the vehicle would liftoff with a satellite called Duchifat 3, designed and built by three Israeli school students, from ISRO’s Sriharikota launch site. The students have already reached Sriharikota to witness the launch of the satellite.
Moment of pride for VSSC
The 50th flight of the PSLV is also a moment of pride for Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, the lead centre responsible for all launch vehicle programmes of ISRO. According to VSSC scientists, it took around 26 years to reach the ‘50th flight’ fete. The first developmental flight PSLV-D1 was launched on September 20, 1993, but it was a failure.
But within a year, the VSSC scripted success with PSLV-D2. Since then, it conducted 40 flights in a row without a single failure, until the PSLV-C39 Mission turned unsuccessful in August 2017. However, when assessing its overall performance -- including the initial three developmental flights and 46 operational flights, the PSLV has emerged as one of the most reliable and versatile workhorses of the country’s space programme.
The PSLV has five different variants viz., PSLV-G, PSLV-XL, PSLV- CA, PSLV-DL and PSLV-QL. The launch vehicle is mainly used for sending remote sensing satellites into Sun Synchronous Polar Orbit (SSPO). The PSLV has also launched over 45 Indian payloads including Chandrayaan 1 and Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan) space crafts and 310 satellites of 33 countries.
The C37 mission has the record credit of placing as many as 104 satellites into orbit in a single launch. It can also be used for sending satellites into the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) satellites, which the country used for navigation for defence and civilian applications, were sent into GTO using PSLV.