PSLV Gearing Up For Its 50th Flight

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is preparing for the 50th flight of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), popularly dubbed the the space agency’s trusted workhorse. The PSLV-C48 mission is scheduled for lift-off on December 11. To date, 49 PSLV missions have lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. They include the initial three developmental flights — designated PSLV D1, D2 and D3 — and 46 operational flights. The total count includes two failed missions and the PSLV variants such as PSLV-XL and PSLV-CA, officials of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), ISRO’s lead agency for launch vehicles, says. By all rights, the PSLV-C47 mission that flew on November 27 this year should have been logged as the 50th flight had the ISRO stuck to the natural progression of numbers. After the PSLV-C12 flight on April 20, 2009, the space agency nimbly leap-frogged to the C14 mission. ISRO lore goes that the number 13 was bypassed allegedly due to its association with ill luck! Along with heftier sibling Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), the PSLV continues to remain the mainstay of the Indian space programme. In a ‘career’ spanning nearly three decades, the PSLV has launched more than 45 Indian payloads — including Chandrayaan 1 and Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan) spacecrafts — and 310 foreign satellites. The C37 mission has the credit of placing a whopping 104 satellites in orbit, a record. The 50th flight would have on board 10 satellites, including India’s RISAT-2BR1 and nine small satellites from abroad, VSSC officials said. Successor to the SLV and ASLV, the PSLV is ISRO’s third-gen launch vehicle, capable of placing payloads in different orbits including the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).

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