By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh), Aug 7 : India’s brand new rocket Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV-D1) on Sunday morning lifted off with an earth observation satellite-02 (EOS-02) formerly known as Microsatellite-2 weighing about 145 kg.
Piggybacking on that was the eight kg AZAADISAT built by 750 students of government schools facilitated by SpaceKidz India.
At about 9.18 a.m. the 34 metre tall and 120 ton rocket broke free of the first launch pad and started its maiden upward one way journey carrying the two satellites.
The rocket with a thick orange flame at its tail slowly gathered speed and went up and up.
Just over 12 minutes into its flight, the SSLV-D1 will put into orbit the EOS-2 satellite and a few seconds later the AZAADSAT will be orbited.
According to the ISRO, the SSLV is a ready to transfer rocket with modular and unified systems with standard interfaces for production by the industry.
The SSLV design drivers are low cost, low turnaround time, flexibility in accommodating multiple satellites, launch-on-demand feasibility, minimal launch infrastructure requirements and others, ISRO said.
The commercial arm of ISRO, NewSpace India Ltd plans to transfer the SSLV technology for production in the private sector.
The Indian space agency said the EOS-02 satellite is an experimental optical imaging satellite with high spatial resolution. The objective is to realise and fly an experimental imaging satellite with short turnaround time and showcase launch on demand capability.
The new technologies realised for the Microsat series of spacecrafts include payloads with a common fore optics and metallic primary mirror realised with the limited mass and volume of Microsat Bus, ISRO said.
With the new launch vehicle included in its product lineup, ISRO will have three rockets — Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and its variants (cost about Rs 200 crore), Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-MkII cost about Rs 272 crore and Mk III Rs 434 crore) and SSLV (Development cost of three rockets about Rs 56 crore each) and production cost may go down later.
According to SpaceKidz India, the significance of this project is that it has been conceptualised as a tribute to mark the 75th anniversary of Independence.
“From 75 government schools for girls across India, we have selected 10 students to give this opportunity. The selected students are predominantly from Classes 8-12. This is a first of its kind Space mission with an ‘All women concept’ to promote women in STEM as this year’s UN theme is ‘Women in Space’,” SpaceKidz India said.
Niti Aayog has partnered for this project to bring this opportunity to students of the government girl schools across India.
Hexaware is supporting by funding the project.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at email@example.com)