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Department of Space, Indian Space Research Organisation


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Oct 22, 2001


PSLV-C3 is the sixth flight of ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. In this mission, PSLV-C3 launched three satellites.  

  • TES (Technology Experiment Satellite) of India weighing 1108 kg,
  • PROBA (PRoject for On Board Autonomy) of Belgium weighing 94 kg
  • BIRD (Bispectral and Infrared Remote Detection) of Germany weighing 92 kg.  

This is the second time that PSLV is launching three satellites simultaneously; in the previous launch in May 1999, PSLV had launched Indian IRS-P4, German DLR-TUBSAT and Korean KITSAT-3. While TES and BIRD was placed in a 568 km sun-synchronous orbit, the third satellite, PROBA, was placed in an elliptical orbit of 568 x 638 km, which was achieved by firing the Reaction Control Thrusters of the fourth stage of PSLV-C3. As all other Indian satellite launch vehicles, PSLV-C3, was launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR on the east coast of India.
In its present configuration, the 44.4 metre tall, 294 tonne PSLV has four stages using solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately. The first stage is one of the largest solid propellant boosters in the world and carries 138 tonne of Hydroxyl Terminated Poly Butadiene (HTPB) propellant. It has a diameter of 2.8 m. The motor case is made of maraging steel. The booster develops a maximum thrust of about 4,430 kN. Six strap-on motors, four of which are ignited on the ground, augment the first stage thrust. Each of these solid propellant strap-on motors carries nine tonne of HTPB propellant and produces 677 kN thrust.

The second stage employs the Vikas engine and carries 40 tonne of liquid propellant - Unsymmetrical Di-Methyl Hydrazine (UDMH) as fuel and Nitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) as oxidiser. It generates a maximum thrust of 724 kN.

The third stage uses 7 tonne of HTPB-based solid propellant and produces a maximum thrust of 324 kN. Its motor case is made of Kevlar epoxy fibre. The fourth and the terminal stage of PSLV has a twin engine configuration using liquid propellant. With a propellant loading of 2 tonne (Mono-Methyl Hydrazine + Mixed Oxides of Nitrogen), each of these engines generates a maximum thrust of 7.4 kN.

The metallic bulbous heat-shield of PSLV, 3.2 m in diameter, is of isogrid construction and protects the spacecraft during the atmospheric regime of the flight.


Stages Nomenclature Propellant Propellant Mass(I) Thrust (kN) Burn time(s) Stage Dimension
Dia(m) L(m)
1 PS1 +
PSOM 6 Nos.
6 x 9
6 x 677
2 PS2 LIQUID UDMH + N2O4 40 724 162 2.8 12.5
3 PS3 SOLID HTPB BASED 7 324 76 2.0 3.6
4 PS4 LIQUID MMH + MON 2 2 x 7.4 421 2.8 2.6