The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is set to conduct the maiden launch of its newly developed Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), which has been readied with the sole purpose of catering to the on-demand satellite launch market. The multi-billion-dollar market has been fuelling space exploration across the world with private companies like SpaceX scoring the biggest slice of the pie.
India will demonstrate its capabilities in launching small satellites as the New Space India Limited secures big contracts ahead of the first launch. The SSLV will lift off on August 7 from the First Launch Pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota at 09:18 am with the Earth Observation satellite (EOS-02).
The launch vehicle will inject the 135-kilogram satellite into low earth orbit of about 350 km to the equator along with AzadiSat developed by 750 girls.
Why do we need SSLV?
SSLV has been developed with the sole purpose of launching small satellites, as the name suggests, and freeing up the massively used Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) for bigger missions to space. PSLV is India’s workhorse and has successfully conducted over 50 missions depositing not just domestic but also customer satellites into Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
The Centre had allocated Rs 169 crores for the development of the project, which is to cover the development & qualification of the vehicle systems and the flight demonstration through three development flights, SSLV-D1, SSLV-D2, and SSLV-D3.
SSLV vs PSLV
The SSLV is completely different from the PSLV even though both are used for launching satellites into Low Earth Orbit. While the PSLV is 44 meters in height, SSLV tops at 34 meters. The newly developed rocket has been configured with three solid stages the 87 t, 7.7 t, and 4.5 t respectively, as against the PSLV, which is a four-stage rocket that generates 4800 kN thrust in the first stage, 799 kN in the second, 240 kN in the third and 15 kN in fourth.
When it comes to payload capacity, the two satellites are both powerful in lifting big structures off the ground. While the SSLV has been designed to carry objects ranging from 10 kilograms to 500 kilograms to a 500-kilometer planar orbit, the PSLV can deposit 1,750 kilograms of payload to Sun-Synchronous Polar Orbits of 600 km altitude.
While PSLV dominates SSLV in the above segments, the new rocket wins when it comes to turn-around time. Turn-around time means readying a rocket for the next launch and SSLV can be prepared and shifted to the launch pad in just over 72 hours, as against the two months required to prep the PSLV.
SSLV will hands down beat SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket, which takes 21 days of turn-around time.
“SSLV provides low-cost access to space on-demand basis. It offers low turn-around time, flexibility in accommodating multiple satellites, launch-on-demand feasibility, minimal launch infrastructure requirements,” Isro has said.