SSLV Test Flight: ISRO to attempt launch of its new rocket-in-development by Dec 2020

SSLV will fly on two test launches from ISRO's Second Launch Pad in Sriharikota, one of which could be in December 2020.

The Indian Space Research Organisation is working towards launching its new rocket, the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle, before the end of the year. Touted by the Indian space agency as a convenient small satellite launcher that can be put together in a week, the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) has been a long time coming. A 34-metre three-stage rocket powered entirely by solid fuel, the SSLV has been two-and-half years in the making – from the drawing board to the launch pad. It is capable of launching multiple satellites at different orbits.

The SSLV can carry a 500-kg-payload to low-earth orbit (LEO) and a 300-kg-payload to sun-synchronous orbit (SSO).  It is expected to fly on two test launches from ISRO's Second Launch Pad in Sriharikota.

On the first flight, it will carry a military payload, Mircrosat-2A, to showcase its launch-on-demand capability. The 142-kg-satellite is expected to meet the ever-increasing user demands for cartographic applications, urban and rural management, coastal land use and regulation, utilities mapping, development and various other geographic information system (GIS) applications.

On the second flight, it is likely to carry a commercial payload for BlackSky Global.

Also Read: India in Space through 2019: From RISAT, ASAT and Chandrayaan-2 to private firms winning big in space

A model of ISRO's SSLV rocket. Image: Maxima Vigilantia

A model of ISRO's SSLV rocket. Image: Maxima Vigilantia

The SSLV is currently being assembled in Sriharikota, with its many systems coming in from various ISRO centres, as per an IANS report.

NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) has already put out brochures advertising the SSLV to seek potential customer in December 2019.

The development cost of the rocket is about Rs 120 crore, and only the third stage of the PSLV rocket has been adapted to fit the new rocket so far. The cost of launching a satellite (per kg) will be similar to that of the PSLV, the report continued.

Before the SSLV launch, November may also see the PSLV-C49 lift off around ten satellites to orbit, including India's RISAT-2BR2. After the PSLV-C49 flight, the launch pad will be reconfigured to meet the SSLV rocket's needs.

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