NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL) has released a Request for Qualification (RFQ) document inviting Indian industry partners for productionising Indian Space Research Organisation’s heavy lift launcher - LVM-3 - under a PPP framework. This collaboration aims towards manufacturing LVM3s in increased numbers and over a longer period of time.

The LVM3 production programme under a PPP framework is proposed over a period of 14 years with the Indian industry expected to produce up to six LVM-3 annually from the sixth year of commencement of the programme.

What is LVM-3?

LVM3 is the new heavy lift launch vehicle of ISRO for achieving a 4,000 kg spacecraft launching capability to GTO (Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit) in a cost effective manner. It is a three stage launch vehicle consisting of two solid propellant S200 strap-ons and core stages comprising of L110 liquid stage, C25 cryogenic stage, the equipment bay (EB) and the Encapsulated assembly (EA). The EA has the spacecraft, Payload Adaptor (PLA) and the Payload fairing (PF).

With a lift-off mass of 640 tonnes, the 43.5 m tall three-stage launch vehicle gives ISRO full self-reliance in launching heavier communication satellites that weigh up to 4,000 kg in GTO.

NSIL is the commercial arm of ISRO with a mandate to enable Indian industries to scale up high-technology manufacturing and production base in the country for meeting the emerging domestic and international space programme needs.

As part of Space Sector reforms, announced by the Government of India during June 2020, and the Indian Space Policy 2023, activities related to the space sector in India opened up for enhanced private sector participation.

7 missions

In line with this initiative, NSIL is considering collaborating with private sector to leverage their expertise and capabilities towards productionising ISRO’s heavy lift launcher, the LVM-3, under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework LVM3, the heavy lift launcher of ISRO, has successfully accomplished 7 missions till date, the RFQ document says.

During 2023, LVM3 made its successful entry into the Global commercial Launch Service market, wherein it successfully launched 72 satellites belonging to OneWeb, UK on-board 2 LVM-3 missions from SDSC, SHAR. As part of payload improvement for LVM-3, ISRO has outlined plans which among several others, include induction of semi-cryogenic stage. The planned technological advancements are expected to significantly improve the LVM-3’s payload capability in the coming years.

Based on the market assessment for “Global trends in launch service market”, NSIL recognises there is growing demand for launching heavier communication satellites as well as satellites for global Mega LEO Constellations in large numbers. The market assessment indicates substantial growth potential for LVM-3 class of vehicle in the coming decade.

To cater to the projected Global launch service market demand, there is a need to increase the production capability of LVM-3 to 4-6 vehicles per year from the present capability of 2 vehicles. As part of this, NSIL is exploring options to partner with Indian industry through a PPP framework wherein industry partners would be made responsible to produce LVM3 in large numbers over a period of 10 to 15 years, the document said.

NSIL is also considering the option to seek investment from the partnering Indian industry for the same. Approximately 60 to 65 launch vehicles are projected to be realised through Indian industry during this proposed period.

NSIL’s proposal is to select an Indian industry partner for this LVM3 programme through a two-stage process viz (i) Request for Qualification (RFQ) followed by (ii) Request for Proposal (RFP), the document said.