An Indian rocket using a domestic cryogenic upper stage will make its first test flight April 15, launching an experimental communications satellite from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota on India’s east coast, the head of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said during an April 7 press conference in Bangalore.

ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan said the Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) will place a 2,200-kilogram communications satellite called GSAT-4 into geostationary transfer orbit.

The satellite carries a Ka-band transponder and a payload for a GPS-aided navigation system for civil aviation that India expects to have in place by 2012. The GSAT-4 will be the first Indian spacecraft that will use four Hall ion engine thrusters for north-south station keeping operations.