We’re just moments away from witnessing, India’s newest rocket- the 34 metre tall and weighing 120 tonne Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) lift-off from the first launch pad at the Sriharikota rocket port on August 7 at 9.18 a.m. and embark on its maiden flight to the outer space.
So, what is the buzz around this launch all about? Let’s find out.
The SSLV-D1 Mission
A brief history
- In 2016, a National Institute of Advanced Studies report by Rajaram Nagappa proposed development path of a ‘Small Satellite launch Vehicle-1’ to launch strategic payloads
- In National Space Science Symposium 2016, Somnath, the then Director of Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, acknowledged the need for identifying a cost effective launch vehicle configuration with 500 kg payload capacity- subsequently in November 2017, the development of such a launch vehicle was underway
- By December 2018, the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) completed the design for the vehicle
- In December 2020, all booster segments for SSLV first stage (SS1) static test (ST01) were received and assembly was done in Second Vehicle Assembly Building (SVAB)
- First static fire test (ST01) of SS1 conducted on March 18 2021 was unsuccessful
- SSLV Payload Fairing (SPLF) functional qualification test was completed in August 2021
The maiden flight of India’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) is the masterpiece of the current ISRO chief, S Somnath, who is known for his prowess in rocket science worldwide.
The SSLV was developed with the aim of launching small satellites commercially at drastically reduced prices and higher launch rate as compared to Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The projected high launch rate relies on largely autonomous launch operation and on overall simple logistics. A PSLV launch involves 600 officials while SSLV launch operations would be managed by a small team of about six people.
Representative | ISRO’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) | Source
The launch vehicle can be assembled both vertically like the existing PSLV and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and horizontally like the decommissioned Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) and Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV).
Representative | IAS Gyan
Powered by a solid propulsion rocket stage using solid propellants as the fuel, the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) is a three-stage launch vehicle configured with three solid propulsion stages and a terminal stage. The terminal stage is a liquid propulsion-based Velocity Trimming Module (VTM) powered by 0.05 tonne of liquid fuel for precise injection of satellites.
Representative | Basics of Space Flight
Touted to have a diameter of 2.1 metres and a length of 34 metres, the lift-off mass of the launch vehicle is approximately 120 tonnes. The launch vehicle is capable of launching payloads weighing up to 500 kilograms to low-Earth orbit (LEO).
Representative | Zoe Fact
What makes it stand apart?
With multiple satellite mounting options for nanosatellites, micro satellites, and mini satellites, the launch vehicle is built to carry a single satellite weighing up to 500 kilograms to a 500-kilometre planar orbit. The PSLV can take up to a 1,750-kilogram payload into the Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO) at 600 km altitude while the SSLV can carry payload weighing up to 300 kilograms.
Furthermore, low cost, flexibility in accommodating multiple satellites, ‘launch on demand’ feasibility, low turnaround time and minimal launch infrastructure requirements makes it capable of catering to the growing opportunity in the global launch services market for small satellites.
The SSLV will carry Microsat 2A and AzaadiSAT as payloads as part of the SSLV-D1 mission.
The EOS-02 (Microsat 2A)
Developed by ISRO as a test payload for the maiden launch of SSLV, the Microsat 2A is a small Earth observing satellite, is expected to meet the increasing user demands of cartographic applications namely mapping of utilities, coastal land use and regulation and other geographic information system (GIS) applications.
The satellite has been developed by Space Kidz India. According to a statement released by the company, the AzaadiSAT project is a first-of-its-kind space mission with an ‘all women concept’ to promote ‘Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects.
Space Kidz India
The Chennai-based organization selected 10 girls each (Classes 8 to 10) from 75 schools across India, and guided them to build the small experiments that were later integrated into the satellite.
Additionally, it will also carry a recorded version of the national anthem sung by Rabindranath Tagore which would be played in space and another specially composed space-song to be played at the time of the launch.
“It is no less than a flight of freedom for these girls. It’s the first time a space-related project built by them in their class will actually go into space and collect data”- said Srimathy Kesan, founder-CEO of Space Kidz India (SKI).
What does this launch mean for India?
The success of this mission will display ISRO’s capability to deliver smaller payloads into low Earth Orbit and will thereby free ISRO’s workhorse-the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle for bigger missions.
Up until now, small-medium-weight satellites have been sent into orbit using a PSLV, involving a team of 600 members and 70 days to ready the launch vehicle.
The new satellite launch vehicle requires only six people, and the turnaround time is 72 hours.
“Independent India, over seven decades, has made enormous advancements and has left its footprints in almost all the domains of Science & Technology, including Space. In the Space Technology domain, the ISRO fraternity has been successful in making the country self-reliant by providing cutting-edge space-based services for national & strategic development, thus making India one of the top-5 space-faring nations globally”- said Dr S Somanath, the Chairman of ISRO, in a message ahead of the 75th anniversary of Indian independence.
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