ISRO Missions and Discoveries

SSLV ‘development flights’ likely in 2022


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: SSLV, PSLV, GSLV

Mains level: Not Much

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is hoping to have all three development flights planned for its ‘baby rocket’ — the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) — in 2022 itself.

What is SSLV?

  • The SSLV is a small-lift launch vehicle being developed by the ISRO with payload capacity to deliver:
  1. 600 kg to Low Earth Orbit (500 km) or
  2. 300 kg to Sun-synchronous Orbit (500 km)
  • It would help launching small satellites, with the capability to support multiple orbital drop-offs.
  • In future a dedicated launch pad in Sriharikota called Small Satellite Launch Complex (SSLC) will be set up.
  • A new spaceport, under development, near Kulasekharapatnam in Tamil Nadu will handle SSLV launches when complete.
  • After entering the operational phase, the vehicle’s production and launch operations will be done by a consortium of Indian firms along with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL).

Vehicle details

(A) Dimensions

  • Height: 34 meters
  • Diameter: 2 meters
  • Mass: 120 tonnes

(B) Propulsion

  • It will be a four stage launching vehicle.
  • The first three stages will use Hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) based solid propellant, with a fourth terminal stage being a Velocity-Trimming Module (VTM).

SSLV vs. PSLV: A comparison

  • The SSLV was developed with the aim of launching small satellites commercially at drastically reduced price and higher launch rate as compared to Polar SLV (PSLV).
  • The projected high launch rate relies on largely autonomous launch operation and on overall simple logistics.
  • 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 the SSLV is expected to be less than a week instead of months.
  • The SSLV can carry satellites weighing up to 500 kg to a low earth orbit while the tried and tested PSLV can launch satellites weighing in the range of 1000 kg.
  • The entire job will be done in a very short time and the cost will be only around Rs 30 crore for SSLV.

Significance of SSLV

  • SSLV is perfectly suited for launching multiple microsatellites at a time and supports multiple orbital drop-offs.
  • The development and manufacture of the SSLV are expected to create greater synergy between the space sector and private Indian industries – a key aim of the space ministry.



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