ISRO's upcoming SSLV is a Game changer Rocket for India's Space race
- Hari Lakshmanan
ISRO’s upcoming Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), a smaller counterpart of the PSLV that the organisation has developed to launch small-satellites more frequently. Globally launchers are a seller’s market with too many small satellites getting ready for different uses and not many vehicles ready to fly them to space when they want to. This is the niche ISRO eyes for its SSLV.
According to Euroconsult, the launch and manufacture of small satellites together can increase about 3.5 times in the coming decade – from $ 12.6 billion in 2009-18 to $ 42.8 billion 2019-28. The next four years through 2023 would see an average of 835 satellites launched each year; and 8,600 satellites lined up for launch during the next decade.
ISRO taking advantage of the growth in the small satellite market to deliver more launch options with the mini-launcher. The manufacturing cost of SSLV is expected to be 10% of that of PSLV rocket . To compare, a PSLV launch involves 600 officials while SSLV launch operations would be managed by a small team of about six people. The launch readiness period of SSLV is expected to be less than a week instead of months.
According to ISRO chief K Sivan, SSLV can be readied on demand with minimum launch infrastructure. SSLV can be assembled in 72 hours (3 days) by three to six people. The launch vehicle is capable of launching 500-830kg in low earth orbit ( 500-300km) and 300-560kg in a sun-synchronous orbit (500-300km).
SSLV can be used to quickly replace lost satellites or augment other space-based assets during wartime. Unlike the PSLV and GSLV, the SSLV can be assembled both vertically and horizontally. On the launchpad, the SSLV will stand 34 metres tall, 10 metres shorter than the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and around 15 metres shorter than the GSLV Mk-II.
ISRO’s mini launcher SSLV is unborn but has 2 flights booked - an Indian government customer and an overseas one. US-based launch service organiser Spaceflight Inc. is one of the customer who has already lined up to use the SSLV.
In addition to the SSLV launches, ISRO also plans to conduct 50 launches using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) over the next five years. Overall, ISRO has earmarked $1.6 billion for launch projects.