Upgraded Vikas engine will soon boost ISRO’s rockets

• All three satellite launch vehicles of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) are set to add muscle to their spacecraft lifting power in upcoming missions this year.

• The space agency has improved the thrust of the Vikas engine that powers all of them. The agency said the high-thrust engine qualified on Sunday after a ground test lasting 195 seconds.

• The main beneficiary of the high-thrust Vikas engine is said to be the heavy-lifting GSLV-Mark III launcher, which ISRO expects will now put 4,000 kg satellites to space. This would be the third MK-III and the first working one to be designed MKIII Mission-1 or M1.

• The first MKIII of June 2017 started with a 3,200 kg satellite and the second one is being readied for lifting a 3,500 kg spacecraft.

• The Vikas engine ‘will improve the payload capability of PSLV, GSLV and GSLV MK-III launch vehicles. The improvement effort, the second such since December 2001, was conducted at ISRO Propulsion Complex in Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu.

• The incremental benefit of the upgraded engine should be seen in the PSLV and GSLV missions over the coming months. MKIII-D2, the second test flight of the heavy-lifter, is being assembled. The new engine will be used in the subsequent mission – M1.

• The Vikas engine is used in the second stage of the light lifting PSLV; the second stage and the four add-on stages of the medium-lift GSLV; and the twin-engine core liquid stage of MK-III.

• Eventually, ISRO will phase out Vikas by replacing it first in MK-III with a cleaner and safer semi-cryogenic engine. The semi-cryo engine is ready for trial; its stage has just been approved.

Share article