ISRO has its 'hands full' with 13 launches and the test of its new rocket before March

ISRO has its 'hands full' with 13 launches and the test of its new rocket before March
Indian Space Reserach Organistion's (ISRO) PSLV-C45 rocket takes off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota carrying the EMISAT in April 2019ISRO

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has its ‘hands full’ with 13 missions planned up until March, according to the agency’s chairman, K. Sivan.
  • ISRO has also planned to test and launch its new Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) during the same time period.
  • ISRO plans to break into the small satellite launch market with the SSLV, which cuts down the preparation time for a mission from months to just three days.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) just completed the successful launch of Cartosat-3 and 13 US satellites. And, it’s only the beginning.

The agency has its ‘hands full’ until March with 13 planned launches, according to the chairman, K Sivan.

"We are having 13 mission up till March. These 13 missions comprise of 6 large vehicle missions and 7 satellite missions… Our hands are full," he said at the post-launch press conference.

A new rocket in the works

The Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) is a new design by ISRO which is expected to conduct its maiden flight in January. The rocket is based on the design of another ISRO rocket, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) but the final changes are yet to be unveiled.


Since it’s a smaller rocket it can only carry 500 kilograms, but its main selling point isn’t its capacity — but the time it takes to get ready. According to ISRO, it will only take three days to prepare for an SSLV launch as compared to the months it takes to prepare for launches using other rockets.

"The small satellite ecosystem is expanding at an accelerated pace," according to ResearchAndMarkets report. India is one of the players in the market that sees the demand for more rideshare capacity. It plans to meet the upcoming demand by providing dedicated services and launch flexibility.

Even though the details of the rocket haven’t been officially disclosed, it has already landed its first customer — Spaceflight. The company bought a payload aboard the SSLV in August.

Sivan told The Hindu that a single earth observation satellite will be launched to test the SSLV before the end of the year before the rocket is launched commercially in early 2020.

Large vehicle launches

Since the SSLV is the smallest vehicle that ISRO has, large vehicle missions imply that ISRO will be using the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) that can launch up to 2-tonne class of communication satellites or the PSLV rockets that can carry up to 1,750 kilograms.

The upgraded variant of the GSLVs, the GSLV Mk III, is capable of launching 4-tonne class of satellites. It’s also called the ‘Bahubali’ of rockets and was used to launch India’s second mission to the moon — Chandrayaan 2.

Missions using these rockets are launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota.

"As usual, team ISRO will rise to the occasion to meet the challenges and requirements, and make every mission a grand success," said Sivan.

See also:

ISRO launches Cartosat-3 and 13 US satellites within 27 minutes

Here’s what’s special about India’s Cartosat-3 launch

ISRO starts its 26-hour countdown for launch of Cartosat-3