The Indian Space Research Organisation has set June 5 as the next milestone in the country's ambitions to build a heavy-lift rocket.
That's when ISRO's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark III is due to hoist a 3,136 kg GSAT-19 satellite to a geosynchronous transfer orbit, the first time a launcher in the GSLV series has had such a large payload.
The vehicle is currently in place at the Sriharikota rocket port in Andhra Pradesh.
GSLV Mk III is still a relatively small heavy-lifter, as the table below shows:
|Vehicle||LEO payload||In service|
|NASA SLS||70 tonnes||2019|
|SpaceX Falcon 9 Full Thrust||22.8 tonnes||Now|
|SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy||63.8 tonnes||Q3 2017|
|GSLV||8 tonnes||June 5, 2017|
If the destination is low-earth orbit, the GSLV can lift an eight-tonne payload.
For this flight, the GSAT-19 payload has Ka-band and Ku-band communications systems, a Geostationary Radiation Spectrometer, and it will be a test bed for the Indian-developed I-6K modular satellite bus.
It's also the first time the country will launch a rocket using cryogenic fuels – a liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen third stage – in addition to two 205 tonne strap-on solid-fuel boosters, and liquid propellant engines as the second stage. ®