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PSLV-C37, 104 satellites on board : ISRO’s record breaking mission

India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its thirty ninth flight (PSLV-C37), will launch the 714 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation and 103 co-passenger satellites together weighing about 664 kg at lift-off into a 505 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO). PSLV-C37 will be launched from the First Launch Pad (FLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. It will be the sixteenth flight of PSLV in ‘XL’ configuration (with the use of solid strap-on motors).

The co-passenger satellites comprise 101 nano satellites, one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, The Netherlands, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and 96 from United States of America (USA), as well as two Nano satellites from India. The total weight of all the satellites carried onboard PSLV-C37 is about 1378 kg.

PSLV-C37 also carries two ISRO Nano satellites (INS-1A and INS-1B), as co-passenger satellites. These two satellites carry a total of four different payloads from Space Applications Centre (SAC) and Laboratory for Electro Optics Systems (LEOS) of ISRO for conducting various experiments.

The 101 International customer Nano satellites are being launched as part of the commercial arrangements between Antrix Corporation Limited (Antrix), a Government of India company under Department of Space (DOS), the commercial arm of ISRO and the International customers.

PSLV-C37 is scheduled to be launched on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 9.28 Hrs IST from Sriharikota.

All about PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) –

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (Hindi: ध्रुवीय उपग्रह प्रक्षेपण यान), commonly known by its abbreviation PSLV, is an expendable launch system developed and operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It was developed to allow India to launch its Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites into Sun synchronous orbits, a service that was, until the advent of the PSLV, commercially available only from Russia. PSLV can also launch small size satellites into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

As of 2014 the PSLV has launched 71 spacecraft (31 Indian and 40 foreign satellites) into a variety of orbits. Some notable payloads launched by PSLV include India’s Chandrayaan-1 lunar probe and the Mars Orbiter Mission.


Development :

PSLV was designed and developed in the early 1990s at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre near Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The inertial systems are developed by ISRO Inertial Systems Unit (IISU) at Thiruvanathapuram. The liquid propulsion stages for the second and fourth stages of PSLV as well as the reaction control systems are developed by the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) at Mahendragiri near Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. The solid propellant motors are processed at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR)at Sriharikota near Chennai which also carries out launch operations.

The PSLV was first launched on 20 September 1993. The first and second stages performed as expected, but an attitude control problem led to the collision of the second and third stages at separation, and the payload failed to reach orbit.[5] After this initial setback, the PSLV successfully completed its second mission in 1994. The fourth launch of PSLV suffered a partial failure in 1997, leaving its payload in a lower than planned orbit. Since then, the PSLV has launched 24 times with no further failures.

PSLV continues to support Indian and foreign satellite launches especially for low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. It has undergone several improvements with each subsequent version, especially those involving thrust, efficiency as well as weight. In November 2013, it was used to launch the Mars Orbiter Mission, India’s first interplanetary probe.

Vehicle Description

The PSLV has four stages using solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately. The first stage, one of the largest solid rocket motors in the world, carries 138 tonnes of hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) bound propellant and develops a maximum thrust of about 4,800 kN. The 2.8-m diameter motor case is made of maraging steel and has an empty mass of 30,200 kg. Pitch and yaw control during first stage flight is provided by the Secondary Injection Thrust Vector Control System (SITVC), which injects an aqueous solution of strontium perchlorate into the nozzle to produce asymmetric thrust. The solution is stored in two cylindrical aluminum tanks strapped to the solid rocket motor and pressurized with nitrogen. Roll control is provided by two small liquid engines on opposite sides of the stage, the Roll Control Thrusters (RCT).

On the PSLV and PSLV-XL, first stage thrust is augmented by six strap-on solid boosters. Four boosters are ground-lit and the remaining two ignite 25 seconds after launch. In the standard PSLV, each booster carries nine tonnes of propellant and produces 510 kN thrust. The PSLV-XL uses larger boosters which carry 12 tonnes of propellant and produce 719 kN thrust. Two strap-on boosters are equipped with SITVC for additional attitude control. The PSLV-CA uses no strap-on boosters.

The second stage employs the Vikas engine and carries 41.5 tonnes (40 tonnes till C-5 mission) of liquid propellant – unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) as fuel and nitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) as oxidizer. It generates a maximum thrust of 800 kN (724 till C-5 mission). The engine is hydraulically gimbaled (±4°) to provide pitch and yaw control, while roll control is provided by two hot gas reaction control motors.

The third stage uses 7 tonnes of HTPB-based solid propellant and produces a maximum thrust of 240 kN. It has a Kevlar-polyamide fiber case and a submerged nozzle equipped with a flex-bearing-seal gimbaled nozzle (±2°) thrust-vector engine for pitch & yaw control. Roll control is provided by the fourth stage reaction control system (RCS).

The fourth stage is powered by twin engines burning monomethylhydrazine (MMH) and mixed oxides of nitrogen (MON). Each engine generates 7.4 kN thrust and is gimbaled (±3°) to provide pitch, yaw & roll control during powered flight. Coast phase attitude control is provided by RCS. The stage carries 2,500 kg of propellant in the PSLV and PSLV-XL and 2,100 kg in the PSLV-CA.

PSLV is developed with a group of wide-range control units.

PSLV stage

Variants :

ISRO has envisaged a number of variants of PSLV to cater to different mission requirements. There are currently three operational versions of the PSLV — the standard (PSLV), the core-alone (PSLV-CA) without the six strap-on booster motors, and the (PSLV-XL) version, which carries more solid fuel in its strap-on motors than the standard version. These configurations provide wide variations in payload capabilities ranging from 3800 kg in LEO to 1800 kg in Sun synchronous orbit.

PSLV (Operational)

The standard version of the PSLV has four stages using solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately and six strap-on boosters. It currently has capability to launch 1,678 kg to 622 km into Sun synchronous orbit.

PSLV-CA (Operational)

The PSLV-CA, CA meaning “Core Alone”, model premiered on 23 April 2007. The CA model does not include the six strap-on boosters used by the PSLV standard variant. Two small roll control modules and two first-stage motor control injection tanks were still attached to the side of the first stage. The fourth stage of the CA variant has 400 kg less propellant when compared to its standard version. It currently has capability to launch 1,100 kg to 622 km Sun synchronous orbit.

PSLV-XL (Operational)

PSLV-XL is the uprated version of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle in its standard configuration boosted by more powerful, stretched strap-on boosters. Weighing 320 tonnes at lift-off, the vehicle uses larger strap-on motors (PSOM-XL) to achieve higher payload capability. PSOM-XL uses larger 13.5m, 12 tonnes of solid propellants instead of 9 tonnes used in the earlier configuration of PSLV. On 29 December 2005, ISRO successfully tested the improved version of strap-on booster for the PSLV. The first version of PSLV-XL was the launch of Chandrayaan-1 by PSLV-C11. The payload capability for this variant is 1800 kg compared to 1600 kg for the other variants. Other launches include the RISAT Radar Imaging Satellite and GSAT-12.

screenshot-en wikipedia org 2015-07-11 15-58-16

PSLV-3S (Under development / Proposed)

ISRO is also considering the development of a three-stage version of the rocket without six strap-on boosters (with the second stage of the four-stage version removed) which will be capable of placing 500 kg to LEO.

Launch history

As of 10 July 2015 the PSLV has made 30 launches, with 28 successfully reaching their planned orbits, one outright failure and one partial failure. All launches have occurred from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, known before 2002 as the Sriharikota Range.

Launch History-

Flight Variant Launch date/time (UTC) Launch Pad Payload Payload Mass Result
D1 PSLV-G 20 September 1993
First India IRS-1E 846 kg Failure
Maiden flight; attitude control failure at second stage separation.
D2 PSLV-G 15 October 1994
First India IRS-P2 804 kg Success
D3 PSLV-G 21 March 1996
First India IRS-P3 920 kg Success
C1 PSLV-G 29 September 1997
First India IRS-1D 1250 kg Partial failure
First operational flight; fourth stage under-performed resulting in lower than planned orbit. Satellite used own propulsion to move to correct orbit.
C2 PSLV-G 26 May 1999
First India Oceansat-1
Germany DLR-Tubsat
South Korea Kitsat-3
1050 kg
45 kg
107 kg
First launch to have foreign satellites, and first to carry multiple satellites.
C3 PSLV-G 22 October 2001
First India TES
Europe PROBA
Germany BIRD
1108 kg
94 kg
92 kg
First multi-orbit mission. TES and BIRD were injected into a nominal 568 km circular sun synchronous polar orbit, PROBA was injected into a 568 X 638 km elliptical orbit. Orbit was raised using RCS thrusters on fourth stage.
C4 PSLV-G 12 September 2002
First India MetSat-1 (Kalpana-1) 1060 kg Success
India’s first launch to GTO. GTO payload capability has reached 1200 kg from 2002 onward, compared to 1050 kg previously. First use of lightweight carbon composite payload adapter.
C5 PSLV-G 17 October 2003
First India RESOURCESAT-1 (IRS-P6) 1360 kg Success
Payload capability had been progressively increased by more than 600 kg since the first PSLV launch. Launch took place despite heavy rain.
C6 PSLV-G 5 May 2005
Second India Cartosat-1
1560 kg
42.5 kg
First PSLV launch from the second launch pad.
C7 PSLV-G 10 January 2007
First India Cartosat-2
India SRE-1
Indonesia LAPAN-TUBsat
Argentina PEHUENSAT-1
680 kg
500 kg
56 kg
6 kg
First flight of hardware upgrade, first launch of reentry capsule (SRE).
C8 PSLV-CA 23 April 2007
Second Italy AGILE
India AAM
352 kg
185 kg
First flight of the ‘Core-Alone’ configuration. ISRO’s first commercial launch (foreign satellite as the main payload).
C10 PSLV-CA 21 January 2008
First Israel TecSAR 295 kg Success
ISRO’s second commercial launch (foreign satellite as the main payload).
C9 PSLV-CA 28 April 2008
Second India Cartosat-2A
Germany RUBIN-8
Canada CanX-6/NTS
Canada CanX-2
Japan Cute-1.7+APD II
Netherlands Delfi-C3
Japan SEEDS-2
Germany COMPASS-1
690 kg
83 kg
8 kg
6.5 kg
3.5 kg
3 kg
2.2 kg
1 kg
1 kg
0.75 kg
C11 PSLV-XL 22 October 2008
Second India Chandrayaan-1 1380 kg Success
First flight of the PSLV-XL configuration, first Indian Lunar probe.
C12 PSLV-CA 20 April 2009
Second India RISAT-2
300 kg
40 kg
India’s first radar imaging satellite, RISAT.
C14 PSLV-CA 23 September 2009
First India Oceansat-2
GermanyLuxembourg Rubin 9.1
GermanyLuxembourgRubin 9.2
Switzerland SwissCube-1
Germany BeeSat
Germany UWE-2
Turkey ITUpSAT1
960 kg
8 kg
8 kg
1 kg
1 kg
1 kg
1 kg
Rubin 9.1 and 9.2 intentionally remained attached to the fourth stage. SwissCube-1 was the first Swiss satellite, and ITUpSAT1 was the first satellite to be constructed in Turkey.
C15 PSLV-CA 12 July 2010
First India Cartosat-2BAlgeria ALSAT-2A
Norway AISSat-1
Switzerland TIsat-1
694 kg
117 kg
6.5 kg
1 kg
0.95 kg
AISSat-1 and TIsat are part of NLS-6.
C16 PSLV-G 20 April 2011
First India ResourceSat-2
Singapore X-Sat
IndiaRussia YouthSat
1206 kg
106 kg
92 kg
C17 PSLV-XL 15 July 2011
Second India GSAT-12 1410 kg Success
First use of Vikram flight computer.
C18 PSLV-CA 12 October 2011
First IndiaFrance Megha-TropiquesIndia SRMSAT
India Jugnu
Luxembourg VesselSat-1
1000 kg
10.9 kg
3 kg
28.7 kg
C19 PSLV-XL 26 April 2012
First IndiaRISAT-1 1850 kg Success
C21 PSLV-CA 9 September 2012
First France SPOT-6
720 kg
50 kg
15 kg
mRESINS tested avionics for future PSLV launches. ISRO’s third commercial launch (foreign satellite as the main payload). ISRO’s 100th mission.
C20 PSLV-CA 25 February 2013
First IndiaFrance SARALCanada Sapphire
Canada NEOSSat
Austria TUGSAT-1
Austria UniBRITE-1
United Kingdom STRaND-1
Denmark AAUSAT3
409 kg
148 kg
74 kg
14 kg
14 kg
6.5 kg
0.8 kg
TUGSAT-1 and UniBRITE were the first Austrian satellites.
C22 PSLV-XL 1 July 2013
First India IRNSS-1A 1425 kg Success
India’s first regional navigation satellite.
C25 PSLV-XL 5 November 2013
First India Mars Orbiter Mission 1350 kg Success
India’s first Mars mission.
C24 PSLV-XL 4 April 2014
First India IRNSS-1B 1432 kg Success
India’s second regional navigation satellite.
C23 PSLV-CA 30 June 2014
First France SPOT-7
Canada CanX-4
Canada CanX-5
Germany AISAT
Singapore VELOX-1
714 kg
15 kg
15 kg
14 kg
7 kg
ISRO’s fourth commercial launch (foreign satellite as the main payload).
C26 PSLV-XL 16 October 2014
First India IRNSS-1C 1425.4 kg Success
Seventh PSLV-XL and third Navigation Satellite launch.
C27 PSLV-XL 28 March 2015
Second India IRNSS-1D 1425 kg Success
Eighth PSLV-XL and fourth Navigation Satellite launch.
C28 PSLV-XL 10 July 2015
First United Kingdom UK-DMC3A
United Kingdom UK-DMC3B
United Kingdom UK-DMC3C
United Kingdom CBNT-1
United Kingdom DeOrbitSail
447 kg
447 kg
447 kg
91 kg
7 kg
At the time it was the heaviest commercial mission (1439 kg) successfully accomplished using a launch vehicle assembled by ISRO.
C30 PSLV-XL 28 September 2015
First India Astrosat
Indonesia LAPAN-A2
Canada exactView 9
United States Lemur-2 #1 Joel
United States Lemur-2 #2 Peter
United States Lemur-2 #3 Jeroen
United States Lemur-2 #4 Chris
1650 kg
68 kg
5.5 kg
4 kg
4 kg
4 kg
4 kg
Launch of India’s first dedicated multi-wavelength space observatory and ISRO‘s first launch of US satellites.
C29 PSLV-CA 16 December 2015
First Singapore TeLEOS-1
Singapore VELOX-C1Singapore VELOX-II
Singapore Kent Ridge-1
Singapore Galassia
Singapore Athenoxat-1
400 kg
123 kg
13 kg
78 kg
3.4 kg
Commercial launch of 6 Singaporean satellites. Fourth stage re-ignition demonstrated successfully after payload deployment.
C31 PSLV-XL 20 January 2016
Second India IRNSS-1E 1425 kg Success
IRNSS-1E, fifth navigation satellite of the seven satellites constituting the IRNSS space segment launched. It carries two types of payloads – navigation payload and ranging payload. This is the eleventh time ‘XL’ configuration is being flown.
C32 PSLV-XL 10 March 2016
Second India IRNSS-1F 1425 kg Success
IRNSS-1F, sixth navigation satellite of the seven satellites constituting the IRNSS space segment launched. It carries two types of payloads – navigation payload and ranging payload. This is the twelfth time ‘XL’ configuration is being flown. IRNSS-1F carries Corner Cube Retro Reflectors for laser ranging. Launch initially scheduled for 10:30 was delayed by one minute to avoid space debris.
C33 PSLV-XL 28 April 2016
First India IRNSS-1G 1425 kg Success
IRNSS-1G, last navigation satellite of the seven satellites constituting the IRNSS space segment launched. India’s own navigational system, the set-up for which was completed will be called NAVIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation)
C34 PSLV-XL 22 June 2016
  • 727.5 kg
  • 120 kg
  • 130 kg
  • 110 kg
  • 25.5 kg
  • 85 kg
  • 1 kg
  • 1.5 kg
  • 12 × 4.7 kg
ISRO’s Cartosat-2C and 19 other satellites launched.
C35 PSLV-G 26 September 2016
First India ScatSat-1
Algeria ALSAT-2B
Algeria ALSAT-1B
United States Pathfinder-1
India Pratham IIT Bombay
Canada NLS-19
Algeria ALSAT-1N
India PISat
371 kg
117 kg
103 kg
44 kg
10 kg
8 kg
7 kg
5.25 kg
ISRO’s longest PSLV satellite launch mission. First mission of PSLV in which it launched its payloads into two different orbits.
C36 PSLV-XL 7 December 2016
First India Resourcesat-2A 1235 kg Success

Planned launches

Flight Variant Launch date/time (UTC) Launch Pad Payload Payload Mass Result
C37 PSLV-XL 15 February 201703:58 First India Cartosat-2D
India INS-1A
India INS-1B
United Arab Emirates Nayif-1
Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Israel, Switzerland, United States 101 CubeSats
730 kg
10 kg
10 kg
1 kg
500 kg
C38 PSLV-XL April 2017 First Italy Max Valier Sat
United States, Australia, Israel Diamond Series Sats
9 others
15 kg
18 kg
C39 PSLV-CA 2017 First India Cartosat-2E Planned
C40 PSLV-XL 2017 First India IRNSS-1H Planned
C41 PSLV-XL 28 Dec 2017 First India TeamIndus (Lander + Rover)Japan Team HAKUTO (Rover) Planned


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