ISRO is working on a low-cost small satellite launcher. The preliminary work to design and develop an ambitious small launch vehicle began about three months ago. Its design will enable a handful of engineers to assemble it within a week. The best about this launcher is that it will be able to put satellites of up to 500-600 kg in orbits close to the Earth and will reduce the time consumed in the process.
The launcher has been designed by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre. They have designed the vehicle using the rocket technology that it already has and is awaiting ISRO’s approval. Dr. Sivan (Director of ISRO’s rocket development node, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre) said,” We are looking for a demonstration launch in a year, in the 2018-19-time frame,”.
The main focus for VSSC engineers was to keep the cost as low as possible. This means that it could cut the launch fees that customers would have to pay. So, they will be able to provide low-cost access to space. What could be better news than that!!
Presently, it takes more than 300 engineers and 40 days to assemble a PSLV. Dr. Sivan also said,” A small launcher that can be got up perhaps in three days by a small team would make a big difference in the market as well as to the launch provider.” This means that satellite operator will not have to wait for one or two years to launch their spacecraft. The big rockets are useful when sending more than one satellite. A ride on small launcher would also mean 1/8 of the present day cost. In the recent years, operators and private players are developing small launchers to capture the market at a much lower cost.
An interesting fact is that, since 1999, ISRO’s PSLV rockets have launched 209 small satellites from 28 countries. But, in February this year, a PSLV carried a record 104 satellites to space. The one will carry about 30 satellites top space (scheduled to be launched next year).
According to a survey conducted by Euroconsult, about 6,200 smallsats would be launched during 2017-2026 and touch a market value of $30 billion, which is more than $9 billion increase from the last decade.
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