India’s PSLV-XL rocket has close links with moon, Mars and the sun

The 44.4 m tall PSLV-C57 rocket with a lift off mass of 321 tonne will carry the spacecraft Aditya-L1 — named after the sun god in Hindu mythology — to study the sun

Representative image (Photo: IANS)
Representative image (Photo: IANS)


The XL variant of India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) seems to have an interesting connection with the moon, Mars and now the sun.

The rocket made its maiden flight on 22 October 2008 for India’s first interplanetary mission — the Moon Mission-1 or Chandrayaan-1.

And on 5 November 2013, the rocket was used for India’s first Mars Mission called Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM).

Nearly 15 years after its first flight and on its 25th mission, the rocket, code named PSLV-C57, is being used for another interplanetary mission — to study the Sun — by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The 44.4 m tall PSLV-C57 rocket with a lift off mass of 321 tonne will carry the spacecraft Aditya-L1, named after the sun god in Hindu mythology, to study the sun.

The  rocket is slated to lift off at 11.50 a.m. on Saturday.

The 2 September rocketing comes after India landed on the moon on 23 August with its lander safely touching down on the lunar soil in textbook style.

In its normal configuration, PSLV is a four stage/engine expendable rocket powered by solid and liquid fuels alternatively with six booster motors strapped on to the first stage to give higher thrust during the initial flight moments.

The rocket that will fly on Saturday was the XL variant, with longer strap-on motors carrying higher fuel quantity.

The PSLV-XL variant was also used to launch AstroSat, India's first dedicated Space Astronomy Observatory on 28 September 2015.

ISRO has five types of PSLV rockets — Standard, Core Alone, XL, DL and QL.
The major difference between them is the use of strap-on boosters which in turn largely depends on the weight of the satellites to be orbited.

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Published: 02 Sep 2023, 9:06 AM