1 . Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)

Reasons for being in news

The Union Cabinet has approved the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) Continuation Programme (Phase 6) and funding of thirty PSLV operational flights under the Programme.

About the news

The Programme will meet the launch requirement of satellites for Earth observation, Navigation and Space Sciences. This will also ensure the continuity of production in Indian industry.

The total fund requirement is Rs. 6131.00 Crores and includes the cost of thirty PSLV vehicles, essential facility augmentation, Programme Management and Launch Campaign.

PSLV Continuation Programme was initially sanctioned in 2008, and four phases have been completed and the fifth phase is expected to be completed by Q2 of 2019-20. The Phase 6 approval will cater to the launch of satellite missions during the period Q3 of 2019-20 to Q1 of 2023-24.

About Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is an expendable launch system developed and operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is a Medium-lift launch vehicle. It was developed to allow India to launch its Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites into sun-synchronous orbits. PSLV can also launch small size satellites into geostationary transfer orbit.

The PSLV was first launched on 20 September 1993. PSLV continues to support Indian and foreign satellite launches especially for low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites.  In November 2013, it was used to launch the Mars Orbiter Mission, India’s first interplanetary probe.

Stages in PSLV
Stage I

The PSLV has four stages using solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately. The first stage, one of the largest solid rocket boosters in the world, carries hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene-bound (HTPB) propellant . The  motor case is made of maraging steel . Pitch and yaw control during first stage flight is provided by the Secondary Injection Thrust Vector Control System (SITVC), which injects an aqueous solution of strontium perchlorate into the nozzle to produce asymmetric thrust.

On the PSLV and PSLV-XL, first stage thrust is augmented by six strap-on solid boosters. Four boosters are ground-lit and the remaining two ignite 25 seconds after launch.

Stage II

The second stage employs the Vikas engine and carries liquid propellant – unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) as fuel and nitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) as oxidiser.

Stage III

The third stage uses hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene-based solid propellant . It has a Kevlar-polyamide fibre case.

Stage IV

The fourth stage is powered by twin engines burning monomethylhydrazine (MMH) and mixed oxides of nitrogen (MON).


ISRO has envisaged a number of variants of PSLV to cater to different mission requirements. There are currently three operational versions of the PSLV — the standard (PSLV), the core-alone (PSLV-CA) without the six strap-on booster motors, and the (PSLV-XL) version, which carries more solid fuel in its strap-on motors than the standard version.

1 . PSLV-G

The standard version of the PSLV (PSLV-G) has four stages using solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately and six strap-on boosters. It currently has capability to launch 1,678 kg  to 622 km into sun-synchronous orbit.


The PSLV-CA, CA meaning “Core Alone”, model  does not include the six strap-on boosters used by the PSLV standard variant. It currently has capability to launch 1,100 kg to 622 km Sun synchronous orbit.


PSLV-XL is the upgraded version of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle in its standard configuration boosted by more powerful, stretched strap-on boosters. The vehicle uses larger strap-on motors (PSOM-XL) to achieve higher payload capability.  The first use of PSLV-XL was the launch of Chandrayaan-1 by PSLV C11. The payload capability for this variant is 1,800 kg  to SSO. Other launches include the RISAT (Radar Imaging Satellite) and GSAT-12.

Variant    –  Launches

PSLV (Standard)  –      12

PSLV-CA (Core Alone) –  11

PSLV-XL (Extended)  –   20

4 . PSLV-3S (Concept)

PSLV-3S was conceived as a three-staged version of PSLV with its six strap-on boosters and second liquid stage removed. It would have a capacity to place 500 kg in 550 km low Earth orbit.

Significance of PSLV

The operationalisation of PSLV has made the country self-reliant in the launching capability of satellites for earth observation, disaster management, navigation and space sciences.

PSLV has emerged as a versatile launch vehicle to carry out Sun-Synchronous Polar Orbit (SSPO), Geo-synchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) and low inclination Low Earth Orbit (LEO) missions. PSLV has established itself as a workhorse vehicle for national satellites with a production capacity that would enable responding fast to commercial launch opportunities also.

With the recent successful launch of PSLV-C41 on 12th April, 2018, PSLV has completed three developmental and forty three operational flights and the last forty one flights have been successful.


2 . Off-Grid and Decentralised Solar PV Applications Programme

Reasons for being in news

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, has given its approval for implementation of Phase-Ill of Off-grid and Decentralised Solar PV (Photo Voltaic) Application Programme to achieve additional 118 MWp(Mega Watt peak) off-grid solar PV capacity by 2020.

About Phase-III of Off-grid and Decentralised Solar PV (Photo Voltaic) Application Programme

Phase-III of Off-grid and Decentralised Solar PV Application Programme covers following components:

i) Solar Street Lights: 3,00,000 numbers of solar street lights will be installed throughout the country with special emphasis on areas where there is no facility for street lighting systems through grid power, North Eastern States and Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts.

ii) Stand-alone Solar Power Plants: Solar power plants of individual size up to 25 kWp(kilo Watt peak) will be promoted in areas where grid power has not reached or is not reliable. This component is mainly aimed at providing electricity to schools, hostels, panchayats, police stations and other public service institutions. The aggregated capacity of solar power plants would be 100 MWp.

iii) Solar Study Lamps: 25,00,000 numbers of solar study lamps will be provided in North Eastern States and LWE affected districts.

Phase – III project cost

The total project of the three components included under the phase-Ill is Rs. 1895 crore of which Rs. 637 crore will be provided as central financial assistance.

About  Off-grid and Decentralised Solar PV Application Programme
Objectives of the Programme

1 . To promote off-grid applications of Solar photovoltaic (SPV) systems for meeting lighting, electricity requirements of individuals, institutions, communities, commercial and industrial establishments.
2 . To create awareness and demonstrate effective and innovative use of Solar systems for individual/ community/ institutional/ industrial applications.
3 . To encourage innovation in addressing market needs and promoting sustainable business models.
4 . To provide support to channel partners and potential beneficiaries, within the framework of boundary conditions and in a flexible demand driven mode.
5 . To create a paradigm shift needed for commoditization of off-grid decentralized solar applications.
6 . To support consultancy services, seminars, symposia, capacity building, awareness campaigns, human resource development, etc.
7 . To encourage replacement of kerosene, diesel, electricity and other fuels wherever possible.

Special thrust will be given on important applications especially in rural areas such as solar lighting, solar water pumping and mini/micro-grids. Thrust will also be given in encouraging technologies like LED, Lithium ion batteries, high efficiency modules etc.

Scope of the Programme

The Programme would be applicable to all parts of India and thrust areas would be as follows

1 . Energy Access
2 . Diesel Replacement
3 . Promote agriculture based applications like solar pumps
4 . Encourage Renewable Energy Service companies (RESCOs)
5 . Make solar products freely available in the market

Significance of the Programme

Off-grid and Decentralized Solar PV Applications Programme has high impact in the rural and remote areas of the country where grid power has either not reached or is not reliable. The off-grid solar power plants proposed in the programme to provide electricity to schools, hostels, panchayats, police stations and other public service institutions will help communities at large and also help in increasing participation of women in education, social and livelihood activities.

The off-grid solar systems will also open better livelihood opportunities for beneficiaries in rural and remote areas thereby increasing self-employment in such areas.


3 . Atal Bhujal Yojana 

Reasons for being in news

The World Bank has approved Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY), a Rs.6000 crore Central Sector Scheme of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

About Atal Bhujal Yojana 

1 . The scheme is to be implemented over a period of five years from 2018-19 to 2022-23, with World Bank assistance.

2 . Atal Bhujal Yojana has been formulated by the Ministry to address the criticality of ground water resources in a major part of the country.

3 . The scheme aims to improve ground water management in priority areas in the country through community participation.

4 . Funds under the scheme will be provided to the states for strengthening the institutions responsible for ground water governance, as well as for encouraging community involvement for improving ground water management to foster behavioural changes that promote conservation and efficient use of water.

5 . The scheme will also facilitate convergence of ongoing Government schemes in the states by incentivizing their focussed implementation in identified priority areas.

6 . Funds under the scheme will be made available to the participating states as Grants.

7 . Ensuring active community participation in groundwater management is among the major objectives of the scheme.

Significance of Atal Bhujal Yojana

The implementation of the scheme is expected to have several positive outcomes like better understanding of the ground water regime, focused and integrated community based approach for addressing issues related to ground water depletion, sustainable ground water management through convergence of on-going and new schemes, adoption of efficient water use practices to reduce ground water use for irrigation and augmentation of ground water resources in targeted areas.


4 . Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III 

Reasons for being in news

The Union Cabinet has approved funding for the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III (GSLV Mk-III) continuation programme (Phase-I) consisting of ten (10) GSLV (Mk-III) flights, at a total estimated cost of Rs. 4338.20 crores.

The estimated cost includes the cost of ten GSLV Mk-III vehicles, essential facility augmentation, Programme Management and Launch Campaign.

About GSLV Mk-III continuation Programme – Phase 1

The GSLV Mk-III continuation Programme – Phase 1 is the first phase of operational flights that will enable the launch of 4 tonne class of communication satellites to meet the country’s satellite communication requirements.

GSLV Mk-III Continuation Programme – Phase 1 will be the first phase of operational flights of the GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle and the approval will cater to the launch of satellite missions during the period 2019-2024.


The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV-III), also referred to as the Launch Vehicle Mark 3 (LVM3) is a three-stage medium-lift launch vehicle developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is designed to launch satellites into geostationary orbit and is intended as a launch vehicle for future Indian crewed space missions.

Stage I

The first stage consists of two S200 solid motors, also known as Large Solid Boosters (LSB) attached to the core stage.  The S200 booster uses an HTPB based propellant.

Stage II

The second stage, designated L110, is a liquid-fueled stage that is 21 metres  tall and 4 metres (13 ft) wide, and contains unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) and nitrogen tetroxide (N2O4). It is powered by two Vikas 2 engines. The L110 is the first Indian clustered liquid-fueled engine. The Vikas engines uses regenerative cooling, providing improved weight and specific impulse compared to earlier Indian rockets.

Stage III

The cryogenic upper stage, designated C25, is 4 metres  in diameter and 13.5 metres  long, and contains  propellant LOX and LH2. It is powered by the CE-20 engine. CE-20 is the first cryogenic engine developed by India which uses a gas generator, as compared to the staged combustion engines used in GSLV.

Significance of GSLV Mk-III

The operationalisation of GSLV Mk-III will make the country self-reliant in the launching capability of 4 tonne class of communication satellites, and sustain & strengthen the space infrastructure and reduce the dependence on procured launches from foreign countries.