India Aims to Double Launch Rate, Work With NASA on Mars Mission

Liftoff of PSLV C-31 Credit: ISRO

Liftoff of PSLV C-31
Credit: ISRO

The Indian space program was on display yesterday at the week long “Make In India” event being held in Mumbai to highlight that nation’s transition into a rising technological and economic powerhouse. ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organization took the opportunity meet with suppliers in conjunction with its plans to largely privatize operations of its workhorse PSLV launch vehicle.

Last week, ISRO told the Times of India that it was planning to hand operations over to an industrial consortium led by its commercial arm, Antrix, with the goal of upping PSLV’s launch rate to as high as 18 per year.

The PSLV, or Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle is a four stage booster burning a mix of solid and hypergolic stages, and is built in several configurations. Following a loss on its maiden flight, the PSLV has gone on to compile an impressive 32 successful flight record which has included both a lunar mission, Chandrayan-1, launched in 2008, and 2014’s Mars Orbiter Mission which is still in operation above the Red Planet. Its most recent mission, PSLV-C31, lifted off on January 20th carrying the 5th of 7 domestically built navigation satellites similar to the American GPS.

India plans on returning to the Moon in 2017-2018 with Chandrayan-II mission, which will feature an orbiter, a lander and a rover, launched this time by the much larger GSLV. India’s GeoSynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle presently has a less enviable 50-50 record standing at four successes, four failures and one tossup, but the last two flights of the Mark II version featuring a “Made in India” cryogenic upper stage have been successful.

Next month, ISRO officials will attend a meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss potential collaboration with NASA and other International Partners on the agency’s planned Journey to Mars. One step along the way could be active participation in the International Space Station, a subject which began to surface in press reports last year.

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