Why ISRO is developing SSLV when it has PSLV?
New Delhi, Feb 23: The highly competitive satellite launch martket which is rapidly expanding into a multi-billion dollars industry and every major player wants a share in it. ISRO has been launching small-medium weight satellites into the orbit and its launch vehicle PSLV has demonstrated commendable capabilities in this field.
Currently, small satellites are being piggybacked on the bigger ones launched using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles (PSLV) and the Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV).
But launching a lesser number of small satellites will not be effective on PSLV and it is for this purpose that ISRO has been developing the SSLV or Small Satellite Launch Vehicle. The payload capacity of the SSLV will be 500-700 kilograms in the Lower Earth Orbit, less than one-third the weight the PLSV can carry. The manufacturing cost of SSLV is expected to be 10% of that of PSLV
ISRO has said the SSLV's USPs will be a low cost and faster turnaround time. Its design is ready and the first SSLV test-flight is expected to happen in May this year.
"We are aiming to hit it at a much lower cost than the PSLV. With the introduction of the SSLV, we are also looking at a large increase in our revenues," S Rakesh, the chief of Antrix, had said.
Antrix is the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and earns its revenue through launching satellites of other companies and private entities.
PSLV has good track record of launching medium-small satellites, and India also has a medium lift launch vehicle GSLV Mk-3 which can carry 4 ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). When PSLV orbited about 100 small satellites in a single launch, it demonstrated its fourth stage restart capability targeting multiple orbits. But the turnaround time of the PSLV is high and that is the problem which the SSLV would address.
The small launch vehicle will be different from the PSLV, ISRO's trusted workhorse, and should take only 72 hours for integration.
A combination of PSLV and SSLV will give India a significant competitive edge in the global launch vehicle market.