The PSLV has four stages using solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately. The first stage is one of the largest solid propellant boosters in the world and carries 138 metric tonnes of Hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) binded propellant with a diameter of 2.8 m. The motor case is made of maraging steel. The booster develops a maximum thrust of about 4,430 kN. Six strap-on motors, four of which are ignited on the ground, augment the first stage thrust. Each of these solid propellant strap-on motors carries nine metric tonne of HTPB propellant and produces 677 kN thrust. Pitch and yaw control of the PSLV during the thrust phase of the solid motor is achieved by injection of an aqueous solution of strontium perchlorate in the nozzle to constitute Secondary Injection Thrust Vector Control System (STIVC). The injection is stored in two cylindrical aluminum tanks strapped to the solid rocket motor and pressurized with nitrogen. SITVC in two strap-on motors is for roll control augmentation.
The second stage employs the Vikas engine and carries 41.5 metric tonne (40 metric tonne till C-5 mission) of liquid propellant - Unsymmetrical Di-Methyl Hydrazine (UDMH) as fuel and Nitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) as oxidizer. It generates a maximum thrust of 800 kN (724 till C-5 mission). Pitch & yaw control is obtained by hydraulically gimbaled engine (�4�) and two hot gas reaction control for roll.
The third stage uses 7 metric tonne of HTPB-based solid propellant and produces a maximum thrust of 324 kN. It has as Kevlar-polyamide fiber case and a submerged nozzle equipped with a flex-bearing-seal gimbaled nozzle (�2�) thrust-vector engine for pitch & yaw control. For roll control it uses the RCS (Reaction Control System) of fourth stage.
The fourth and the terminal stage of PSLV has a twin engine configuration using liquid propellant. With a propellant loading of 2 metric tonne (Mono-Methyl Hydrazine as fuel + Mixed Oxides of Nitrogen as oxidiser), each of these engines generates a maximum thrust of 7.4 kN. Engine is gimbaled (�3�) for pitch, yaw & roll control and for control during the coast phase uses on-off RCS. PSLV-C4 used a new lightweight carbon composite payload adopter to enables greater GTO payload capability.