ISRO’s new company just made its first sale to an American firm to come aboard a rocket that doesn’t exist yet

(Representative image) ISRO PSLV C25 launchISRO

  • New Space India Limited (NSIL), India's commercial space company, just bagged its first customer — Spaceflight, a space rideshare company based in the US.
  • Spaceflight has bought a slot on board the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) new Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV).
  • But the SSLV has not been unveiled yet and will only embark on its maiden voyage, for the Indian government, later this year.
The Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) new commercial arm, New Space India Limited ( NSIL), just landed its first customer.

Spaceflight, an American space rideshare company, just bought a payload slot on the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV).

SSLV is perfectly suited for launching multiple microsatellites at a time and it supports multiple orbital drop-offs. It is designed for the launch-on-demand concept with very quick turnaround capability in between launches.

Curt Blake, CEO and President of Spaceflight

Even though the SSLV is based on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket designs, the actual launch vehicle hasn't been unveiled by ISRO yet.

SSLV's maiden voyage

As compared the PSLV rocket, which can carry 1,100 - 1,600 kilograms, the SSLV can only accommodate 500 kilograms.

And, the launch vehicle's first mission into space won't be a commercial launch with Spaceflight's payload on board.

ISRO Chairman K. Sivan, told The Hindu that first ISRO will first launch a single defence Earth observation spacecraft in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) using the SSLV rocket by the end of the year with the commercial launch scheduled to take place in 2020.

The hype around the SSLV rocket is based on the fact that it should only take ISRO around three days to put a launch together as compared to the months of preparation for other launches.

NSIL's first customer

NSIL might be a new company but Spaceflight is no stranger to using ISRO launch vehicles to get satellites into space.

As a 'ridesharing' space company, Spaceflight normally doesn't put its own payloads on board the rockets but arranges for their clients to get their instruments on board.

In April 2018, for example, Spaceflight set up 21 small international satellites to launch aboard ISRO's PSLV C45 rocket. It also arranged for BlackSky Global, its subsidiary, to launch the BlackSky Pathfinder-1 aboard another PSLV C35 rocket in 2016.

Over the years, Spaceflight has completed a total of nine missions with ISRO and send more than 100 spacecrafts into orbit aboard its launch vehicles.

Spaceflight has not disclosed the payload for the SSLV but did state that it's a 'US-based satellite constellation customer.'

See also:
India forms a new space company to sell ISRO’s space technology products

India doesn't trust US with measuring space debris — and so it will set up its own agency
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