Chennai, Sep 2:The XL variant of India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) seems to have an interesting connection with Moon, Mars and now the Sun.
The rocket made its maiden flight on October 22, 2008 for India’s first interplanetary mission – the Moon Mission-1 or Chandrayaan-1.
And on November 5, 2013, the rocket was used for India’s first Mars Mission called Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM).
Nearly 15 years after its first flight and on its 25th mission, the rocket code named PSLV-C57 is being used for another interplanetary mission – to study the Sun- by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
The 44.4 metre tall PSLV-C57 rocket with a lift off mass of 321 ton will carry the spacecraft Aditya-L1 -- named after the Sun God in Hindu mythology- to study the Sun.
The rocket is slated to lift off at 11.50 a.m. on Saturday.
The September 2 rocketing comes after India landed on the Moon on August 23 with its lander safely landing on the lunar soil in a text book style.
In its normal configuration, PSLV is a four stage/engine expendable rocket powered by solid and liquid fuels alternatively with six booster motors strapped on to the first stage to give higher thrust during the initial flight moments.
The rocket that will fly on Saturday was the XL variant – with longer strap-on motors carrying higher fuel quantity.
The PSLV-XL variant was also used to launch AstroSat, India's first dedicated Space Astronomy Observatory on September 28, 2015.
ISRO has five types of PSLV rockets – Standard, Core Alone, XL, DL and QL.
The major difference between them is the use of strap-on boosters which in turn largely depends on the weight of the satellites to be orbited.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at [email protected])