By Staff Correspondent
Once considered the final frontier for government projects, space is now witnessing a new wave of commercial interests. As nations and companies compete to mark their presence in this burgeoning market, India’s Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been seen as strategically positioning itself as a force to be reckoned with.
Development Of Key Launch Vehicles
SLV-3 & ASLV Programmes: In the early years of India’s space journey, ISRO made a significant statement with the Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-3) in 1980. Followed by the Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV) Programme, these initiatives strengthened India’s capabilities in solid propellant technology.
PSLV: A Reliable Workhorse: Marking a turning point in India’s space history, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) became a mainstay. It emerged from an initial failure in 1993 to become India’s reliable workhorse, boasting 52 successes in 55 launches.
GSLV: Entering Geostationary Orbits: With the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), India achieved the capability to place satellites in geostationary orbit, overcoming significant international pressures and technological hurdles.
SSLV: A Leap Towards Commercial Success
Expanding into Small Satellite Market: ISRO’s new Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) is an agile and promising addition to its suite of offerings. With its successful launch earlier this year, on 10 February 2023, the SSLV-D2 has placed India in the high-stakes commercial race for small satellite launches. The ability to deliver a 500-kilogram payload to a 500-kilometre planar orbit at a competitive price sets ISRO apart in the global market.
Balancing Commercial and Strategic Interests: The SSLV is not just about commercial gains; it’s also a strategic asset. This innovative launch vehicle may fulfil the concept of ‘launch on demand’ for the Indian military. By transferring technology to the private sector, ISRO aligns with global trends and enables the domestic space industry to thrive.
Orbiting Opportunities & Challenges
While ISRO’s achievements are commendable, challenges persist. According to many noted space sector analysts, the organisation must evolve its capabilities to launch heavy satellites into higher orbits and meet the modern-day requirements of communication satellites. Group Captain (Dr) Ajey Lele, a consultant at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) New Delhi and a noted space expert, emphasises ISRO’s need to demonstrate SSLV’s full capability and operationalise the second spaceport to maintain global relevance.
Lifting-Off On Legacy
ISRO’s journey from its first rocket launch in 1963 to the SSLV program tells a tale of ambition and resilience. Its success with PSLV and GSLV builds a legacy that the SSLV is poised to extend.
Leapfrogging Into The Future
ISRO’s strategic approach, marked by the SSLV program, is an example of astute innovation. Analysts believe that by focusing on ‘low hanging fruit’ and positioning itself favourably in the small satellite launch market, ISRO is playing to its strengths.
A New Chapter In India’s Space Story
ISRO’s SSLV is more than a technological achievement; it represents a bold vision for India’s role in the global commercial space market. The agility, determination, and vision of ISRO highlight an exciting future for the nation. While challenges remain, ISRO’s pursuit of excellence makes India a serious contender in the space race, setting the stage for future triumphs in a world where the sky is no longer the limit.