International

Indian satellite mission encounters difficulty as rocket loses direction in orbit.

Indian hopes to launch smaller satellites and acquire a presence in the multi-billion euro global launch market have been dogged by a rocket that malfunctioned on its first flight.

The newest and least expensive of India’s three active rockets, the 34-meter Small Satellite Launch Vehicle, or SSLV, was built to launch payloads weighing between five and 500 kilograms.

The low-cost rocket placed two satellites, one one made by 75 schoolgirls, into an elliptical rather than a circular orbit at a height of 356 kilometers, according to S. Somanath, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

Somanath stated this after the eagerly anticipated flight mission of the 3.6 million euro rocket was judged a failure, “But for that difficulty, we couldn’t see any other oddity.”

After the mission on August 7, he remarked, “The satellites have already descended from that orbit and they are no longer usable,” adding that he was preparing for another attempt.

“We anticipate being entirely successful in proving the vehicle can put satellites in the intended orbits for commercial use for India and the entire world with the second development flight,” he continued.

Rising Demand

Former ISRO director G. Madhavan Nair urged the 53-year-old space agency to move quickly on the project, which is being hailed as India’s only response to the booming market for small satellite launches.

We must act rapidly to enter the market, Nair said on television, noting that there will be a rise in demand from colleges, organizations, and the student population for small satellites.

“At the same time it is necessary that the production of this rocket system is picked up by the industry and then only we can meet the demands globally,” he continued.

The incident may have a negative impact on India’s plans to quickly enter the small satellite market, which is expected to grow fourfold to 12 billion euros by 2030, according to the Indian Express newspaper.

Made-to-order SSLVs, which take about 80 days to construct, may be put together in 72 hours and for a tenth of the price.

According to analysts, smaller rockets might increase ISRO’s performance to 50 to 60 low-altitude launches per year.

A further delay to SSLV’s flight, which has been delayed multiple times over the last three years, might harm business for ISRO, which launched only six satellites with its larger rockets during that time.

In contrast, Elon Musk, a US businessman, used his SpaceX rockets to launch 143 tiny satellites into orbit last year.

90 percent of all current launches are of smaller satellites, which three local businesses are reportedly planning to construct.

The rocket’s failure was also India’s EOS earth monitoring satellites’ second setback. One such satellite that was launched on a standard rocket last year was abandoned due to launch chaos.

Space Odyssey

While other countries failed to send a rocket to Mars in 2014, India was successful on the first try. Costing 71 million euros, or 11% of NASA’s Maven orbiter, the journey to Mars.

The Martian Odyssey, according to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cost less than the science fiction picture Gravity.

It made an attempt to join an exclusive group of space-faring nations that flew to the moon five years later. But as it descended, the Indian spacecraft lost communication, and the Lander slammed into the moon.

After two mock runs and a 1.1 billion euro expedition budget, ISRO is now preparing for its most difficult mission to land men on the moon next year.

 

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