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Launch Vehicles are used to transport and put satellites or spacecrafts into space. In India, the launch vehicles development programme began in the early 1970s. The first experimental Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-3) was developed in 1980. An Augmented version of this, ASLV, was launched successfully in 1992. India has made tremendous strides in launch vehicle technology to achieve self-reliance in satellite launch vehicle programme with the operationalisation of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

PSLV represents ISRO's first attempt to design and develop an operational vehicle that can be used to orbit application satellites. While SLV-3 secured for India a place in the community of space-faring nations, the ASLV provided the rites of passage into launch vehicle technology for ISRO. And with PSLV, a new world-class vehicle has arrived. PSLV has repeatedly proved its reliability and versatility by launching 70 satellites / spacecrafts ( 30 Indian and 40 Foreign Satellites) into a variety of orbits so far.

ISRO also makes the Rohini series of sounding rockets used by the Indian and international scientific community to launch payloads to various altitudes for atmospheric research and other scientific investigations. These rockets are also used to qualify some of the critical systems used for advanced launch vehicles.

 
Landmark achievements in ISRO's Launch Vehicle Development
 
PSLV has 26 consecutively successful flights out of 27 launches
PSLV used for launching around 40 satellites for foreign customers under commercial agreements, demonstrating its multi-satellite launch capability
PSLV used to launch Space capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE-1), Chandrayaan-1 and ISRO's exclusive meteorological satellite, KALPANA-1, proving its versatility
GSLV with five successful flights of eight launches can launch 2 to 2.5 tonne satellite into Geo-synchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO)
Successful testing of indigenously developed cryogenic upper stage on November 15, 2007.
   
ISRO's Launch Fleet at a Glance
   
ISRO developed two experimental satellite launch vehicles, SLV-3 and ASLV
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle(PSLV) commissioned in 1997
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-Mk I) commissioned after second successful flight in May 2003
GSLV - MK II will use indigenously developed cryogenic Upper Stage
GSLV - MK III is under development
   
   
SLV-3
Satellite Launch Vehicle-3 (SLV-3), India's first experimental satellite launch vehicle was successfully launched on July 18, 1980 from SHAR Centre Sriharikota, when Rohini satellite, RS-1, was placed in orbit. SLV-3 was a 22 m long, all solid, four stage vehicle weighing 17 tonnes capable of placing 40 kg class payloads in low earth orbit.

It employed an open loop guidance (with stored pitch programme) to steer the vehicle in flight along pre-determined trajectory. The first experimental flight of SLV-3, in August 1979, was only partially successful. Apart from the July 1980 launch, there were two more launches held in May 1981 and April 1983, orbiting Rohini satellites carrying remote sensing sensors.
ASLV
   
Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV) was developed to act as a low cost intermediate vehicle to demonstrate and validate critical technologies. With a lift off weight of 40 tonnes, the 23.8 m tall ASLV was configured as a five stage, all-solid propellant vehicle, with a mission of orbiting 150 kg class satellites into 400 km circular orbits. The strap-on stage consisted of two identical 1m diameter solid propellant motors, Under the ASLV programme four developmental flights were conducted.

The first developmental flight took place on March 24, 1987 and the second on July 13, 1988. ASLV-D3 was successfully launched on May 20, 1992, when SROSS-C (106 kg) was put into an orbit of 255 x 430 km. ASLV-D4, launched on May 4, 1994, orbited SROSS-C2 weighing 106 kg. It had two payloads, Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) Experiment and Retarding Potentio Analyser (RPA) and functioned for seven years. ASLV provided valuable inputs for further development.
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