What is a Launch Vehicle?

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Sep 21, 2022

A launch vehicle or a carrier rocket can carry a payload or a satellite/spacecraft from the surface of the earth to the Lower earth orbit after which the payload or the satellite is deployed and will reach its intended orbit or destination. 

Launchpads are a primary requirement to launch spacecraft or satellites into space. Launchpads of the carrier rocket can be located on land, on a fixed or a mobile ocean platform, or on a submarine. The most important aspect of deciding the location for a launchpad is, that it must be away from human habitation as in case of a launch failure, there are no casualties that take place.

A launch vehicle carrying a heavy payload requires a substantial amount of thrust to free itself from the earth’s gravity and reach outer space. The combustion of fuels present in the launch vehicle produces gas due to high temperature which expands rapidly. This high volume of gas is let out through the nozzle which is placed at the bottom of the launch vehicle. The gas released from the nozzle then applies a high amount of force on the ground and as a reaction an upward force is generated which is known as thrust. The thrust generated drives the launch vehicle in an upward direction towards space which enables the launch vehicle to escape earth’s gravity.

The structure of the launch vehicle depends on the payload & its intended orbit. As the fuel required for a launch vehicle is large, the fuel is stored in multiple stages. The payload (satellite or spacecraft) is kept at the top of the launch vehicle. Post-launch, if the fuel of any stage is exhausted, the empty fuel tank is detached from the launch vehicle body & the fuel in the next stage is ignited. This process is repeated till the satellite or the spacecraft is deployed or separated. By using the separation process which takes place from bottom to top, the overall weight of the launch vehicle reduces which helps the satellite or the spacecraft to gather more speed. Additionally, the overall fuel consumption is also reduced.

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Name Date
Altius 01 May, 2025
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Eutelsat Quantum 30 Jul, 2021
Sentinel 6 21 Nov, 2020
Cheops 18 Dec, 2019
EDRS 06 Aug, 2019
BepiColombo 20 Oct, 2018
Aeolus 22 Aug, 2018
Sentinel 3B 25 Apr, 2018
Sentinel 5 13 Oct, 2017


Name Date
INSAT-3DS 17 Feb, 2024
XPoSat 01 Jan, 2024
Aditya-L1 02 Sep, 2023
DS-SAR 30 Jul, 2023
Chandrayaan-3 14 Jul, 2023
NVS-01 29 May, 2023
TeLEOS-2 22 Apr, 2023
OneWeb India-2 26 Mar, 2023
EOS-07 10 Feb, 2023
EOS-06 26 Nov, 2022


Name Date
XRISM 07 Sep, 2023
SLIM 07 Sep, 2023
ALOS-3 07 Mar, 2023
ISTD-3 07 Oct, 2022
HTV9 21 May, 2020
HTV8 25 Sep, 2019
HTV7 23 Sep, 2018
HTV6 09 Dec, 2016
HTV5 19 Aug, 2015
HTV4 04 Aug, 2013


Name Date
NEO Surveyor 01 Jun, 2028
Libera 01 Dec, 2027
Europa Clipper 10 Oct, 2024
SpaceX CRS-29 09 Nov, 2023
Psyche 13 Oct, 2023
DSOC 13 Oct, 2023
Psyche Asteroid 05 Oct, 2023
Expedition 70 27 Sep, 2023
SpaceX Crew-7 25 Aug, 2023
STARLING 18 Jul, 2023