I’m here today to talk about ISRO’s latest venture and that’s SSLV. To counter the emerging global small satellite launch services market, ISRO has taken up development of SSLV which has the capability to launch on demand. If you don’t have an idea about SSLV then the very first thing pops up in your mind is, what’s SSLV? And if you are familiar with this, then next thing you wonder about is, why do we really need it? And how ISRO is going to make it operational? How really it is going to make fortune for ISRO or Indian Space Sector? Well these are so many questions to answer so let’s take up on them one by one.
Small Satellite Launch Vehicle, is a new launch vehicle in ISRO’s launch vehicle series after SLV-3, ASLV, PSLV, GSLV MK II and GSLV MK III. SSLV as the name suggests, will be used to launch the smaller satellite (multiple nano/micro satellites or dedicated payload) to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Sun synchronous Orbit (SSO). As the ISRO’s official page dictates, SSLV has the capacity to deliver 500 kg to Low Earth orbit (500 km) or 300 kg to Sun synchronous orbit (500 km). SSLV consist of 3 solid fuel stages and a bi-propellant RCS/velocity trimming module as terminal stage for the final course corrections.
Vehicle length: 34 m
Payload Fairing: 2.1 m Dia
Lift-off Mass: 120 tonnes
Need for SSLV
The question is very valid as we already have PSLV, GSLV MK II and GSLV MK III currently for the launch services then what’s the purpose to develop a new launch vehicle.
To answer this question, we have to go a little back and look out for the performance and efficiency of the current launch vehicles. PSLV or GSLV, both the launch vehicles are capable of launching tonnes of payload to LEO and SSO. But this launch capability comes at a cost which is manufacturing cost and time and the man power involvement in managing the project.
But SSLV provides an efficient solution to overcome those problems (cost, time and manpower). The purpose of this launch vehicle lies in the readiness of the launcher for a mission in a short duration and that too at a far smaller cost. This particular launch vehicle can be manufactured and will be ready to launch within a time frame of just three weeks. And just 3 weeks, this is all it needs, from the raw material in the storage facility to get it ready for launch on the launch pad.
There is another way to understand this, which is Launch on Demand (LoD). Say, there is satellite (500 kg) which has to be launch next month but you just can’t launch it. But whyy? Because the launching of a satellite doesn’t only depend upon its availability. It also depends upon two more things, one is the readiness of the launch vehicle and another is the availability of the batch satellites (other satellites will be launch along with this satellite). So if any of the above isn’t ready by the time, you can’t launch this satellite as well. Here comes the SSLV, which is designed for such ventures where multiple nano, micro or dedicated payload can be launch within a month. SSLV salient features include launch on demand, lower per kg launch cost, improved the production rate from industries, reduced turn over time and multiple satellite mounting options for nano, micro and small satellites.
Operations handling for SSLV?
Launch services provided by this vehicle will be mainly used for the commercial purposes and will be handled solely by commercial ARM of ISRO (NSIL). NSIL will be the sole nodal agency responsible for providing end-to-end SSLV launch services.
Two missions for the SSLV has already been planned for its developmental phase and the maiden flight may take place by end of 2020. The first two launches of SSLV-D1 and SSLV-D2 are planned from Small Satellite Launch Complex (SSLC), a dedicated launch pad for SSLV in SDSC-SHAR whereas the future launches will take place from the new spaceport of India, under development, near Kulasekarapattinam in Tamil Nadu.
So this is all till now about SSLV. And as you can see SSLV comes with marvelous features which helps it to face the competition in the space market and also fulfil the commercial requirements. In my opinion the way SSLV is going to handle the market demand, it is definitely going to make a fortune for ISRO, as well as space sector.
In this way, ISRO hasn’t only provided a launch vehicle to counter the emerging global small satellite launch services market but once again it has proved that we are very much capable of developing any cutting edge technology, that too very much cost-effective. But it’s not all, ISRO is always working to give back to the society.
So what do you think, ISRO should take up as its next venture?