ISRO's Maiden Success In Small Satellite Launch Vehicle Market

ISRO's Maiden Success In Small Satellite Launch Vehicle Market

February 11, 2023 - 7:09 am

SSLV D2 Placed Three Satellites Into Their Targeted Circular Orbit

Six months after its initial mission failed to produce the anticipated results, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) achieved its first success in the small satellite launch vehicle market on Friday when three satellites were successfully launched by its SSLV D2 rocket into the intended circular orbit. During its second development flight, the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV-D2) was successfully launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. The 450-km circular orbit around the Earth will house the ISRO earth observation satellite EOS-07 and two co-passenger spacecraft made by start-ups, Janus-1 and AzaadiSat2. The smallest ISRO vehicle's mission, which was due to launch at 9.18 am, lasted roughly 15 minutes. It was ISRO’s maiden launch in 2023.

What is SSLV?

Small Satellite Launch Vehicle is the official name of this vehicle. Mini-micro or nano satellites (10 to 500 kg mass) can be launched by SSLV into 500 km flat orbits. All three stages of the SSLV's three phases of propulsion are solid, and the last step is a propulsion-based velocity reduction module. Low cost, quick turnaround, flexibility in housing many satellites, viability of launch-on-demand, and minimal launch infrastructure needs are the design pillars of SSLV.

Aim of the SSLV-D2

It was created to take over for the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and serve the market for small satellite launches. The new vehicle was developed to take advantage of the expanding tiny and micro satellite commercial industry, with launches available on demand. In contrast to the six months and around 600 workers required to build ISRO's workhorse PSLV, the rocket could be built by a small crew in only a few days.

What is  EOS-07?

EOS-07, which weighs 156.3 kg, has a 12-month mission life. The goal of the EOS-07 mission was to build and create a micro satellite that could quickly accommodate new technology payloads as well as payload sensors suitable with a micro satellite bus as well as new technologies needed for future operational satellites.

What is Janus-1?

The American corporation Antaris and its Indian affiliates XDLinks and Ananth Technologies developed the Janus-1 satellite. It is a standardised satellite bus to which various payloads may be mounted similarly to how Lego blocks may be attached. The primary component of a satellite, known as the bus, is where the payloads—which can be employed for a variety of purposes, including earth observation, signal monitoring, or ship tracking—rest. For satellites weighing about 100 kg, the company wants to produce buses for satellites of various sizes. Janus-1 is a six-unit cube satellite that only weighs 10.2 kg and has five payloads on board, including two from Singapore and one each from Kenya, Australia, and Indonesia. Less than half as long as it often takes to create satellites of this size, the entire spacecraft was manufactured in just 10 months. As a result, businesses will be able to launch their payloads quickly and economically. Once it's up and running, operations can be taken care of or access can be granted to the companies so they can manage it themselves. 

What is AzaadiSat2?

The payloads were made by 750 female students from different parts of India. SpaceKidzIndia launched a comparable satellite on SSLV-D1 in August of last year. The second satellite has a different purpose, but it still carries the same payloads, including LoRa amateur radio, a radiation level sensor, and sensors to check the health of the satellite, such as inertial data, reset count, and temperature. The nonprofit organisation SpaceKidzIndia, which aims to promote kids' knowledge of space, has made the satellite extendable. Once it is in orbit, the external frame of the 8-unit satellite's spring mechanism will open. As the frame widens, the satellite will grow by a factor of two.

Why Did The Launch Fail the Last Time?

The launch vehicle needs three solid stages to put satellites into orbit, then it needs a liquid-fueled Velocity Trimming Module (VTM) to adjust their speed. During the vehicle's initial development flight, which was unsuccessful last August due to multiple delays brought on by the pandemic, the satellites were not placed in a precise orbit. Due to excessive vibration that accelerometers registered during the second stage separation, the on-board system "thought" the sensors were malfunctioning, which is what led to the incident. For the second flight, structural changes were made to the equipment bay as well as changes to stage 2's separation mechanism and the on-board system's logic. After a new vehicle has successfully completed two development flights, the space agency proclaims it operational. The final launch to be formally recognised as functioning was Chandrayaan-2's launch in 2019 using the GSLV Mk III, currently known as LVM 3.

The Way Forward

After a protracted wait, India has now come to serve the lucrative market for small satellite launches. A vital ecology for the developing small and micro-satellite commercial industry, which has the potential to develop into a sizable market in the coming years, is being ensured with today's successful launch of ISRO SSLV-D2. This achievement represents a step towards India's developing launch-on-demand satellite capabilities, which will provide the commercial space industry a competitive edge over the next few years.