For a long time, India has relied on the PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) to carry payload into orbit. Known as the third-generation launch vehicle of India, it is the first Indian launch vehicle to include liquid stages.

The rocket has the ability to launch much demanded IRS (Indian Remote Sensing Satellites) into sun-synchornous orbits. Until 1993, only Russia was capable of commerically provided such a service.

PSLV also has to ability to put payloads up to 1,425kg into GTO (Geostationary Transfer Orbit.)

At a height of 44m and 4.8m diameter, the small but reliable rocket has been used by India to carry the Chandrayaan missions and Mars Orbiter Spacecraft, to the Moon and Mars respectively.

ISRO is one of the top 5 space agencies in the world, so it comes at no surprise reading about their achievements.

The rocket was recently used to launch the RISAT-2B satellite.

PSLV Rocket, courtesy of ISRO

Record breaking rocket

This record breaking rocket has been used to carry 104 satellites to put into orbit, in a single launch. It is known to be highly cost-effective and reliable.

Each launch cost is estimated to be around $21-31 million. This puts the PSLV at a comparable to the Falcon-9.

Payload/Rocket Compared

GTO (Geostationary Transfer Orbit) Payload:

ISRO’s PSLV Rocket: 1,425kg

SpaceX’s Falcon-9 Rocket: 7,000-8,300kg

SSO (Sun Synchronous Orbit) Payload:

ISRO’s PSLV Rocket: 1,750kg

SpaceX’s Falcon-9 Rocket: 7,500kg

Number of Stages:

ISRO’s PSLV Rocket: 4 stage

SpaceX’s Falcon-9 Rocket: 2 stage


ISRO’s PSLV Rocket: Height: 44m, Diameter: 4.8m

SpaceX’s Falcon-9 Rocket: Height: 70m, Diameter: 3.7m


Cost Compared: Falcon-9 vs PSLV (per kg of GTO payload)

ISRO’s PSLV Rocket: $18.2k

SpaceX’s Falcon-9 Rocket: $7.4k

Taking into account that the Falcon-9 is a reusable launch vehicle, the PSLV rocket is highly economical for most developing countries. It is a smaller rocket that can be used to carry multiple small payloads.

Falcon-9 Rocket, courtesy of SpaceX


With all its political and financial complexity, India still holds strong in space and aeronautical developments. 

Comparing it to SpaceX is not entirely fair, as SpaceX has rockets that can carry super-heavy payloads, and be completely reusable. Even though, ISRO still holds strong with its economic efficiency.

Building their own rockets, military jets, and even intercontinental missles, ISRO could be said to be the most economically efficient space agency in the world.


Source: ISRO, SpaceX, NASA

Cover Image Source: ISRO, SpaceX