ISRO: Upper stage engine of largest rocket now approved for Gaganyaan manned mission

India’s space agency ISRO today announced that it has completed engine tests of the upper stage engine of its LVM rocket, a variation of its GSLV rocket and its most powerful, that will be used on its Gaganyaan manned orbital mission presently scheduled for launch in 2025.

In order to qualify the CE20 engine for human rating standards, four engines have undergone 39 hot firing tests under different operating conditions for a cumulative duration of 8810 seconds against the minimum human rating qualification standard requirement of 6350 seconds.

Before the 2025 manned mission, ISRO plans four more launch abort tests (one has already taken place) and three unmanned Gaganyann orbital demo missions. Two of those unmanned demo flights are scheduled for this year.

India and France sign deal to partner selling flights on their rockets

India and France have apparently signed a deal to not compete in selling flights on their biggest rockets, but instead work together to keep prices under their control.

Under the terms of the MoU [memorandum of understanding], NSIL’s [the commercial space division of India’s government] heavy-lift launch vehicle, LVM-3, and Arianespace’s Ariane-6 will be at the forefront of this joint endeavor.

The article at the link provides no information at all about the specifics of this deal. I am simply guessing that is it designed to control prices, especially because France by itself does not own the Ariane-6 and thus can not award launch contracts for it. All it can do is convince India to not charge less for its comparable LVM rocket (a variation of its GSLV rocket). If so, it is a bad deal for India, which can easily undercut any price that Arianespace can charge for the expensive Ariane-6. It will drive business from India, since other companies (such as SpaceX, ULA, and hopefully Blue Origin in the near future) will be under no obligation to match Ariane-6’s high cost.

It is also possible that the deal is simply an empty political gesture, timed during the visit to India by France’s President Emmanuel Macron. Its vague language suggests this. It gives Macron a photo op, but as an MOU it leaves India under no long term obligation.