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Maiden mission of India’s Rs 56 crore SSLV rocket ends in failure

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The inaugural flight of India’s brand new rocket, the Rs 56 crore Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), failed on Sunday morning.

The failure of a tiny solid-fuel rocket to launch focuses attention on the safety of India’s human space mission. The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mk III (GSLV-Mk III) will carry out the mission with the difficult cryogenic engine stage.

The SSLV-D1 with two satellites was launched at approximately 9.18 a.m., however the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) declared the satellites are useless since they were placed in a different orbit than the intended one.

“All of the phases ran smoothly. Both satellites were launched. However, the orbit attained was lower than intended, making it unstable,” ISRO noted in a brief statement regarding the project.

ISRO explained, “SSLV-D1 put the satellites in an elliptical orbit 356 km x 76 km instead of a circular orbit 356 km. Satellites are no longer functional. The problem has been reasonably identified. A logic failure to notice a sensor failure and proceed with a salvage step produced the deviation.”

A committee would examine and offer suggestions. ISRO will return with SSLV-D2 as soon as the recommendations are implemented.

The ISRO launched its newly minted rocket Small Satellite Launch Vehicle – Developmental Flight in order to mark the country’s 75th anniversary of independence in style (SSLV-D1).

The SSLV-D1 carried an earth observation satellite-02 (EOS-02), formerly known as Microsatellite-2, weighing around 145 kg, and the eight kilogram AZAADISAT constructed by 750 children from government schools with the assistance of SpaceKidz India on its first developmental flight.

ISRO reported the separation of EOS-02 and the AZAADISAT around 12 minutes into the rocket’s flight.Soon after, the Mission Control Centre at the rocket port here became silent, with ISRO Chairman S.Somanath declaring: “The SSLV-D1 mission was successfully completed. The rocket’s stages all operated as predicted. There is some data loss in the rocket’s last stage.”

He stated that the data is being gathered to determine the mission’s condition.

“The AZAADISAT were apart. We can only learn about the satellite at night,” stated Dr. Srimathy Kesan, Founder and CEO of SpaceKidz India.

The rocket broke away from the first launch pad here around 9.18 a.m. and flew into a hazy sky. The rocket’s flight was seamless, with all of its solid-fuel-powered engines operating well. The SSLV-D1 is fueled mostly by solid fuel (total weight of 99.2 tons) and also includes a velocity trimming module (VTM) driven by 0.05 tons of liquid fuel for accurate satellite injection.

The latest rocket from India was 34 meters tall and weighed 120 tons.

According to the flight plan, the SSLV-D1 had to deploy the EOS-2 satellite into space just over 12 minutes into its journey, followed by the AZAADISAT a few seconds later.

The SSLV, according to the ISRO, is a ready-to-transfer rocket with modular and unified systems and industry-standard interfaces.

According to ISRO, the SSLV design drivers include cheap cost, quick turnaround time, flexibility in housing many satellites, launch-on-demand capability, and minimal launch infrastructure needs. Following a handful of successful missions, ISRO’s commercial subsidiary, NewSpace India Ltd, intends to transfer the SSLV technology for manufacture in the private sector.

The EOS-02 spacecraft, according to the Indian space agency, is an experimental optical imaging satellite with excellent spatial resolution.

The goal is to build and fly an experimental imaging satellite with a rapid turnaround time and to demonstrate launch on demand capabilities.

Small satellite launches will be a major role in the global space industry, with about 7,000 satellites estimated to be in the sky by 2027, according to V.K. Saraswat, member of Niti Aayog, during a space conference.

Saraswat estimates that around 7,000 tiny satellites worth $38 billion will be launched between 2018 and 2027.

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