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ISRO’s small satellite launch vehicles to offer cost-effective options in India

The SSLV is expected to be cleared for launch by next year. It will be used exclusively for small satellites such as nanosats, says Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO.

india Updated: Sep 09, 2018 14:17 IST
ISRO,Antrix,SSLV
Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) navigation satellite IRNSS-1I, on board the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C41), lifts off at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, in April 2018.(PTI File Photo )

The Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), being built by ISRO, will offer affordable launch options in India and help boost revenues, Antrix, the space agency’s commercial arm, has said.

The SSLV is expected to be cleared for launch by next year. It will be exclusively for small satellites such as nanosats and cubesats, S Rakesh, the chief of Antrix, said.

Currently, small satellites are being piggybacked on the bigger ones launched using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles (PSLV) and the Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

With satellites becoming smaller and launch options limited, these satellites can be sent on the SSLV.

“ISRO has been developing the SSLV and it is expected to be cleared by next year. Once the test is complete, they have agreed to transfer the technology to Antrix,” Rakesh told PTI in an interview.

Asked about the cost of launches, Rakesh said, “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.”

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.

It can reach up to 500 kilometers in Earth’s lower orbit, ISRO chairman K Sivan had said in his inaugural address at the Bengaluru Space Expo Thursday.

The small launch vehicle will be different from the PSLV, ISRO’s trusted workhorse, and should take only 72 hours for integration, he 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.

In the last three years, Anrtix has earned Rs 5,600 crore through commercial activities that include launching commercial satellites and remote sensing services.

Rakesh said a chunk of the revenue comes from North American and European markets, and added that revenues from Southeast Asia are also witnessing a rise.

He said Antrix will launch two British satellites next week.

A month later, 30 foreign commercial satellites will be launched, of which 20-25 will be from North America, he said, noting that most of these satellites are cubesats.

“The decision of the US to deregulate small and micro satellites has given a fillip to our business. Our revenues and launch services have increased. We are also looking at a large increase in the next few years in the launch service markets,” he said.

First Published: Sep 09, 2018 14:17 IST