- ISRO’s Small Satellite Vehicle (SSLV-D2) lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota recently.
- SSLV-D2 carried
- EOS-07, a 153.6 kg Earth Observation Satellite realized by ISRO;
- Janus-1, a technology demonstration satellite weighing 10.2 kg belong ANTARIS, USA; and
- AzaadiSAT-2, an 8.8 kg satellite realized by Space Kidz India by integrating various scientific payloads developed by 750 girl students across India.
- SSLV is the new small satellite launch vehicle developed by ISRO to cater the launch of small satellites up to 500 kg to Low Earth Orbits on ‘launch-on-demand’ basis.
- It is configured with three solid stages and a liquid propulsion-based Velocity Trimming Module (VTM) which helps achieve desired velocity for the insertion of the satellites into the intended orbit.
- SSLV is capable of launching Mini, Micro, or Nanosatellites (10 to 500 kg mass) to a 500 km orbit.
- It provides low-cost access to Space, offers low turn-around time, facilitates flexibility in accommodating multiple satellites and demands minimal launch infrastructure.
- The vehicle’s first development flight of SSLV-D1 that took place last August after repeated delays due to the pandemic, failed to place the satellites in precise orbit. SSLV-D2 implemented the recommendations made by the expert committee that analyzed the shortcomings of SSLV-D1 flight.
Significance of SSLV
- SSLV-D2 launch aims to commercialize the small satellite launches through Industry on demand basis.
- It caters to the increasing global need of launching small satellites into Space.
- Small satellites have utility in fields as diverse as education, defense, earth sciences, emergency-related data services and smart power grids.
- India has to go a long way to become a significant player in the small satellite-driven space economy as its share is only about 2 percent.
- The space research agency has averaged less than five launches a year in the past 44 years.
- As today’s data-driven world requires more frequent rocket launches, the ISRO’s plans to transfer the SSLV technology to private players is a welcome move.
- In 2020, the government set up the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) to enhance the diffusion of ISRO’s research.
- Elon Musk’s SpaceX, for instance, launched an orbital mission once every six days last year. Such rockets can be assembled, on-demand, at a fraction of the cost of conventional satellites in three to four days.
- The success of such private players in the US owes much to the enabling partnerships forged with NASA.
- India’s premier space research agency should do well to emulate its American counterpart.