Ethan Wong

June 23, 2023

Fast Facts:

The primary rocket engine that launches most Indian rockets is called the Vikas engine. Similarly to the Chinese rocket engines, the Vikas uses dimethylhydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide as propellant. Aside from developing the Vikas, the Indian Space Program also created the CE-7.5 and CE-20 engines, which burn the classic hydrogen and LOX propellant and are usually equipped on the upper stages of India’s launch vehicles. 

India’s Space Program is highly slept on in the world of spaceflight, mainly due to its lack of budget. However, their space program and rocketry builds have proven that they can also accomplish and reach the same feats as other space programs, such as China and Japan.   

The first ever rocket developed by India was the SLV, which stood for Satellite Launch Vehicle. The maiden flight failed, as the second stage malfunctioned, leading to many improvements for the next flight. However, July 18th, 1980 featured the successful launch of SLV, which carried the Rohini satellite into Earth’s orbit. 

Next, India created the ASLV, known as the Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle, tasked with carrying larger payloads into orbit. Essentially, the first stage of the rocket acted as “strap-on boosters” to the rocket, similar to the Falcon 9 Heavy. These side boosters would ignite on launch and then detach, leaving the rest of the rocket to propel itself. However, the rocket stayed the same so the only difference was that the SLV would be getting its first stage strapped onto either side to carry heavier payloads. The final launch of the ASLV was on May 4th, 1994. 

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) first launched in 1993, a much larger rocket standing almost 150 tall. The rocket's second stage was powered by a variation of the Vikas engine, capable of igniting higher in the atmosphere. The third stage used an unusual concoction of hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene and its fourth stage was powered by pressure-fed engines. The rocket also carried up to six strap-on boosters that were the same as the SLV first stage (the same ones used for the ASLV). The first successful launch was in 1994 on October 15th, after a previous failed attempt. There are many different variations of the PSLV, such as the PSLV-CA which doesn’t have any boosters surrounding it, or the PSLV-XL which does use slightly taller boosters. 

The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk II rocket (LVM2) was the next rocket created by India, standing at 167 feet tall. The first stage uses the PSLV’s first stage, and the second stage is powered by a singular Vikas engine. The third stage uses the CE-7.5 engine. Since the beginning of 2014, the rocket has had 6 straight successful launches. The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III rocket (LVM3) stands an impressive 143 feet tall. The rocket utilizes two Vikas engines along with two strap-on boosters for extra thrust. The upper stage uses the CE-20 engine instead of the CE-7.5 seen on the LVM2. A little over 2 minutes after launch, the strap-on boosters will detach and the core engine will burn out a couple minutes later.