India will take a key step towards developing a powerful generation-next rocket capable of putting four tonne satellites in orbit when it tests the 200 tonne solid booster later this month.
The test launch of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III is expected next year.
"We are going to test the S-200, the solid booster, in the third week of January," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K Radhakrishnan told PTI on the sidelines of the 97th Indian Science Congress here.
ISRO scientists will also test the second stage, which uses liquid propellant some time this month.
The ground tests are expected to be carried out at India's spaceport Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
The GSLV Mark III will propel India into a select group of nations, including US and European nations, having capability to launch heavier satellites.
The rocket, which will be capable of carrying a one tonne spacecraft to Mars, will primarily be used to launch communications satellite.
In terms of fuel mass and length, GSLV Mark III's 200 tonne, 25 metre long solid boosters would rank after US Space Shuttle's booster (fuel mass of 440 tonne, 37.8 metre) and Europe's Ariane (fuel mass 240 tonne, length 31.6 metre).