• With the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) planning to keep the fourth and final stage of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) ‘alive’ in space as a useful ‘orbital platform’.
• The rocket popularly dubbed ISRO’s trusted workhorse — is getting added features.
• Set for lift-off this month with the Microsat-R payload, the upcoming PSLV-C44 mission will see a new variant of the PSLV in use.
• This variant, tagged PSLV-DL, will be the first to sport two strap-on boosters for providing added thrust.
• Its final and fourth stage PS4 will be equipped with lithium-ion batteries, but no solar panels.
• An in-house technology, the lithium-ion cells are critical to keep the spent stage in orbit.
• Solar panels will be added, in all likelihood, in the next mission.
• ISRO had hit upon the idea of transforming the expendable fourth stage into a makeshift satellite to reduce space debris.
• In a normal scenario, the initial stages of the rocket, once they detach, drop back into the sea. However, stage four, after releasing the payload, wanders around in space as junk.
Mains Paper 3: Science and Technology
Prelims level: PSLV-C44
Mains level: Read the story