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ISRO’s Heaviest Rocket


  • The Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) heaviest rocket Launch Vehicle Mark 3 (LVM3 or GSLV Mark 3) successfully orbited 36 satellites of OneWeb, based in the United Kingdom.
  • It was launched as part of the LVM3-M2 / OneWeb India-1 Mission.
    • LVM3-M2 is New Space India Limited’s dedicated commercial satellite mission (NSIL).
  • NSIL is a Central Public Sector Enterprise under the Government of India’s Department of Space.


GS Paper 3: Achievements of Indians in science & technology

Mains Question

Despite having distinct foundational objectives in their respective fields, the ISRO proved to be more successful than the DRDO. Discuss. (150 words)

Rockets from India

  • India currently operates three launch vehicles:
    • Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, or PSLV; The PSLV has been the most widely used, with up to 53 successful missions since 1993.
  • Only two PSLV flights have failed.
    • Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk-II; the GSLV Mk-II has been used in 14 missions, four of which have failed.
    • Launch Vehicle Mark-3 or LVM3 The LVM3 has flown five times, including the Chandrayaan 2 mission, and has never let ISRO down (RLV). Unlike other rockets, the RLV would not be destroyed in space.
    • It can be returned and refurbished for multiple uses.

About the GSLV MKIII (now known as the Launch Vehicle Mark 3):

  • The GSLV MkIII is a three-stage vehicle with two solid strap-on motors, one liquid core stage, and a cryogenic upper stage with high thrust.
  • GSLV MKIII Characteristics:
    • GTO performance capability of 4.3 tonne
    • Payload capability ranging from 10 tonne to LEO missions
  • A low Earth orbit (LEO) is an orbit that is relatively close to the Earth’s surface, with an altitude ranging from 160 to 2,000 kilometres.
    • Budget-friendly
    • Greater dependability, operability, and redundancy management
    • Future payload growth potential with minimal design changes
  • Later, the GSLV MKIII’s payload capability will be increased to 6 tonnes for GTO.
  • A satellite in the GTO orbits the Earth once per day (at an altitude of 37,000 km), keeping the satellite in roughly the same area over the ground.
    • To support Indian Space Programme manned missions (such as the Gaganyaan mission).
  • The Gaganyaan mission will be launched by a human-rated GSLV MkIII.
  • The Gaganyaan programme aims to transport three crew members to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and safely return them to a predetermined location on Earth.
  • LVM3, India’s heaviest rocket, placed 36 broadband satellites for a UK-based customer in precise orbits.


  • Validated ISRO’s claim as a serious player in the heavy satellite launch market o The LVM3 rocket carried nearly 6 tonnes of payload into lower-Earth orbit during this launch.
    • This was the heaviest payload ever delivered into space by an ISRO mission.
  • Only a few countries are capable of launching satellites weighing more than 2 tonnes.
  • Re-validated the viability of the LVM3 rocket o The flight’s success re-validated the LVM3 rocket’s viability for long-awaited missions such as Gaganyaan, Moon landings, and deep space explorations in the near future.
  • Atmanirbharata in heavy satellite launch
    • Until recently, ISRO relied on Ariane rockets from Europe to launch its heavy satellites.
    • The LVM3 rocket, formerly known as the GSLV Mk-III, is intended to end that reliance.
  • Entry into the commercial space market o This was the first foray into the commercial space market by any Indian launch vehicle other than ISRO’s workhorse PSLV.

Despite being one of the leading space-faring countries, India currently accounts for only 2% of the market. o With this, India is expected to increase its market share in this sector

December 2023