Small satellite launch vehicle

Small satellite launch vehicle


  • Recently the Chairman of ‘Indian Space Research Organization’ (ISRO) has mentioned the launch of ‘SSLV-D1 Micro Sat’ in April 2022.
  • SSLV (Small Satellite Launch Vehicle) aims to launch small satellites into low earth orbit. In recent years, the ‘Small Satellite Launch Vehicle’ has become very important to meet the needs of developing countries, small satellites of universities and private corporations.

Small Satellite Launch Vehicle:

  • These are relatively small vehicles, weighing only 110 tonnes. These take only 72 hours to integrate, whereas for a launch vehicle this period is around 70 days.
  • It can carry satellites weighing 500 kg into low earth orbit, while the ‘Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle’ (PSLV) can launch satellites weighing 1000 kg.
  • SSLV is a three-stage solid vehicle and has the capability to launch a 500 kg satellite into ‘Low Earth Orbit’ (LEO) and ‘Sun Synchronous Orbit’ (SSO).
  • It is fully compatible to launch multiple microsatellites at a time and supports multiple types of ‘orbital drop-off’.
  • Key features of SSLV include low cost, low turn-around time, flexibility to accommodate multiple satellites, on-demand feasibility and minimal launch infrastructure.
  • The government has approved a total of Rs 169 crore for the development project including development, qualification and flight demonstration of vehicle systems through three UDAN (SSLV-D1, SSLV-D2 and SSLV-D3).
  • ISRO Chairman Dr. Somnath is credited with designing and developing the SSLV during his tenure as the Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Center in Thiruvananthapuram from the year 2018.
  • SSLV’s first flight was scheduled to start in July 2019 but due to COVID-19 and other issues its flight is getting delayed.

Importance of SSLV:

  • Development and manufacturing of SSLV is expected to create greater synergy between the space sector and private Indian industries, which is a major objective of the Ministry of Space.
  • Indian industry has a consortium for production of PSLV and once tested they should come together to produce SSLV.
  • One of the mandates of the newly-formed ISRO’s commercial arm New Space India Limited (NSIL) is to mass-produce and manufacture SSLVs and more powerful PSLVs in partnership with the private sector in India through technology transfer.
  • It aims to utilize the research and development work done by ISRO over the years for commercial purposes through Indian industry partners.
  • Till now small satellites are launched along with larger satellites through ‘Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle’ (PSLV) which is ISRO’s work-horse with more than 50 successful launches. Due to which the launch of small satellites depended on the launch of large satellites.

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