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ISRO SSLV launch to take place by August, says agency secretary

ISRO SSLV launch to take place by August, says agency secretary
24 Jun, 2022
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The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), India’s central space agency, will be launching its Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) within “the next one or two months”, said Victor Joseph, associate scientific secretary at Isro. Speaking at his keynote at a conference by the Astronautical Society of India (ASI) on Friday, Joseph added that the SSLV will be one of India’s key lightweight and reusable commercial rockets – alongside those being built by private space startups in the country.

The SSLV is expected to be an economical way for deploying small satellites into orbit. The space agency has been conducting tests for the small launch vehicle for quite some time now, and has confirmed that it can carry up to 300kg payloads to sun synchronous orbits (SSO) at up to 800km above Earth, or 500kg to low Earth orbits at around 500-700km above Earth.

Development of Isro’s SSLV was delayed due to the covid-19 pandemic, which saw its launch schedule being delayed. In April this year, union minister of state for space, Jitendra Singh, said that the SSLV could be launched by the third quarter of 2022, after its initial launch timeline of end-2021 was scrapped.

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In March this year, Isro conducted a successful ground test of the SSLV’s solid booster stage, which would propel it to orbit.

The Isro SSLV will be different from the agency’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) rockets. The PSLV is Isro’s mainstream workhorse, and is capable of carrying up to 1,750kg payloads to SSO, or lighter payloads up to 1,450km above Earth. The GSLV, meanwhile, is the heaviest rocket built by Isro, and can carry up to 4 tonnes of payload up to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) at 37,000km above Earth.

Speaking at ASI’s conference on the development of space startup ecosystem in India, Isro’s Joseph said that the SSLV line of business for Isro will help establish a large production volume of rockets, which could be deployed on demand from businesses. Joseph also added that from 2030, the SSLV chain could help Isro launch up to 1,500 satellites from clients around the world – across multiple missions.

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Joseph also added that at present, India represents a 2% share of investments worth $447 billion made in the space sector. By 2030, collaboration with the private sector could see India take a 10% share of global investments made in the space sector. Such increases would occur through the deployment of the SSLV, as well as improving existing technologies – such as increasing the capacity of GSLVs from 4 tonnes to 6 tonnes, to deploy heavier payloads.