Setting the road map for ISRO's future propulsion, ISRO chairman K Sivan highlights that Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) is set to play a lead role in the development of 'light craft' for interplanetary missions, which will have the least payload weight with maximum thrust and high speed. LPSC has also set the challenge to develop powerful advanced cryogenic engine, semi-cryogenic engine and green propellants to end the use of toxic propellants.

It is also focused on the development of 800-newton-thrust main liquid engine for soft landing on moon with Chandrayaan-II, he said coinciding with the 30th anniversary celebrations of LPSC that concluded on Monday. 

“It is not just the aircraft, the target is to develop light craft using laser propulsion for interplanetary mission. With such light craft, powered by high speed laser propulsion, it will be possible to go to Mars in four to eight minutes and the challenge is for LPSC to play a lead role in developing that,” ISRO chairman K Sivan told TOI, when asked. With that, crucial components such as Air Breathing Propulsion Systems (ABPS), control system, fluid components and a lot of technological innovations are being developed for the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) at LPSC, he said.

“In addition to the advanced cryogenic engine being developed, semi-cryogenic engine will be developed in 30 months for the advanced GSLV-MK III mission, which will be used to launch 5.5 ton class satellites. The GSLV-MK III mission, planned in July for launch of 4.4 ton satellite, will be powered by a liquid core stage L110 stage, which uses two high pressure Vikas engine for combined high thrust, in addition to a powerful cryogenic upper stage (C25). In the next GSLV-MK III launch, semi-cryogenic engine would replace the liquid core stage L110,” Sivan told TOI on Monday.

With that, green propellants to end the use of toxic propellants and electric propulsion systems are being developed at LPSC, he said. LPSC is also developing the 800-newton-thrust main liquid engine for soft landing on moon. With Chandrayaan-2 to be launched by October, the challenge is to travel to other planets using high speed reusable, reliable and cost effective light crafts and to propel LPSC into the world science map, he said.

Chandrayaan-2, India’s second mission to the Moon is a totally indigenous mission, comprises of an Orbiter, Lander and Rover. After reaching the 100 kilometre lunar orbit, the Lander housing the Rover will separate from the Orbiter. After a controlled descent, the Lander will soft land on the lunar surface at a specified site and deploy a Rover. The instruments on the Rover will observe the lunar surface and send back data, which will be used to analyse the lunar soil.

LPSC founder director AE Muthunayagam said the challenge to develop green propellants by LPSC will end the use of carcinogenic propellants. The current ISRO chairman has given additional challenges for LPSC to develop advanced cryogenic, semi-cryogenic engines and other propulsion systems for reusable and cost-effective launches to compete in a global environment with other space faring nations.