The XL variant of India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) has forged intriguing links with celestial bodies, including the Moon, Mars, and now the Sun.
This rocket embarked on its maiden voyage on October 22, 2008, carrying out India’s inaugural interplanetary mission known as the Moon Mission-1, or Chandrayaan-1.
Subsequently, on November 5, 2013, this same rocket played a pivotal role in India’s first Mars Mission, the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM).
Fast forward nearly 15 years, and this rocket, bearing the code name PSLV-C57, embarks on its 25th mission, marking yet another interplanetary endeavor. Standing tall at 44.4 meters and boasting a liftoff mass of 321 tonnes, the PSLV-C57 will transport the Aditya-L1 spacecraft, named after the Sun God in Hindu mythology, on a mission to study the Sun.
The rocket is slated for liftoff at 11:50 a.m. on Saturday.
This launch on September 2 follows India’s triumphant lunar landing on August 23, with its lander executing a flawless touchdown on the lunar surface.
In its standard configuration, the PSLV is a four-stage/engine expendable rocket, utilizing both solid and liquid fuels interchangeably. Additionally, it features six booster motors affixed to the first stage to provide enhanced thrust during the initial phase of flight.
The upcoming launch will employ the XL variant of the PSLV, distinguished by its extended strap-on motors carrying a larger fuel load.
Notably, the PSLV-XL variant was previously employed to launch Astro Sat, India’s inaugural dedicated Space Astronomy Observatory, on September 28, 2015.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) operates five types of PSLV rockets, namely Standard, Core Alone, XL, DL, and QL. The primary distinction among them lies in the use of strap-on boosters, which is determined by the weight of the satellites destined for orbit.