Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chief K. Radhakrishnan said that ISRO is all set to conduct an experimental test of its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark 3 in mid-December.
"In mid-December, we will have the experimental flight of the GSLV Mark 3. It will not launch a satellite in this flight, and will be passive in the upper stage," said the ISRO chief.
While addressing the 50th Foundation Day Address at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), Radhakrishnan said that the satellite launch vehicle will have a capacity of carrying approximately four tonnes of load, and will be able to launch heavier satellites in space.
He also said India now stands 5th or 6th in the list of nations with space programmes. "It will be ready for developmental flight in two years," he added.
The vehicle is 42.4 metres tall compared to the other GSLV which is 49 metres. It will be a three-stage vehicle.
Development for the GSLV Mark 3 began in the early 2000s, with the first launch planned for 2009-2010. Several factors, including the April 15, 2010 failure of the ISRO-developed cryogenic upper stage on the GSLV Mk II, have delayed the programme.
Pointing out that the cryogenic engine used in the launch vehicle, developed totally indigenously, makes India one of the few countries with the technology, Radhakrishnan said India still lagged behind several other countries in the capacity of its launch vehicles.
Comparing the capacity of the vehicles, he said, "China has launch vehicles with 5.5 tonnes capacity, Europe has 11 tonnes capacity launch vehicle, US has 13 tonnes capacity launch vehicles and Russia has nearly 10 tonnes capacity vehicles."
The ISRO chief said that the long-term target is to make a launch vehicle with 12 tonnes capacity.
Talking about the success of the Mars Orbiter mission, the ISRO chief said the success of the mission is gratifying, especially because it has changed the perception of the global space community towards India.
"India took only four years to launch the mission from its conception and used its ingenuity by moving to right location, using the propulsion of the satellite and also by designing a unique mission in which minimum energy transfer from the Earth orbit to Mars orbit was made possible. The mission was also more significant as the previous international missions undertaken before India had very low success rate," he said.
(With inputs from IANS)