The US-based satellite rideshare and mission management provider Spaceflight has purchased the first commercial launch of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), a new mini-rocket launcher designed and built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for launching small satellites, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
The maiden SSLV launch is scheduled for later this year from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota. It has been completely booked by an undisclosed US-based satellite constellation customer, it said. The agreement to book the SSLV launch was made through an agreement with New Space India Limited (NSIL), a newly-formed public sector enterprise under the Department of Space.
“Spaceflight will aggregate the mission, delivering a single point of contact for the customer, handling all aspects of integration and mission management for the launch,” the statement said.
Recently developed by ISRO, SSLV rockets are capable of putting a payload of 500 kg to mid-inclination Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and 300 kg to Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO), making it ideal for launching small satellites. In comparison, the larger Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from ISRO is capable of launching 1100 – 1600 kg capacity payload into SSO.
“The SSLV is the much-needed solution to fill the gap in the portfolio of small launch vehicles,” said Curt Blake, CEO and President of Spaceflight. “SSLV is designed for the launch-on-demand concept, with very quick turn-around capability in between launches. SSLV is perfectly suited for launching multiple micro-satellites at a time and supports multiple orbital drop-offs. We’re excited to add SSLV to our launch portfolio and manage many launches together — first to LEO mid-inclinations this year and SSO missions starting in the fall of 2020,” Blake said.
With the completion of this mission, Spaceflight will have executed nine missions with ISRO, sending more than 100 satellites to orbit aboard its launch vehicles. The first SSLV mission will deploy commercial spacecraft in two different orbital planes.
Blake added, “As our customers seek to populate their constellations, they want access to launch vehicles sized for their spacecraft and budgets, across a mix of rideshare and dedicated missions. ISRO has been a trusted and reliable launch partner for years with the PSLV, and we’re very excited to work with NSIL to offer customers the option to launch from SSLV, hence our purchase of its first available launch.”
“We’re taking advantage of the growth in the small satellite market to deliver more launch options with the mini-launcher, and look forward to many more launches with Spaceflight,” said Radhakrishnan D, Director NSIL.