With 75 payloads built by 750 girls, ISRO’s smallest rocket carrying Tiranga to launch big dreams
On August 15, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made an announcement that the Tricolour will be unfurled in space during India’s 75th year of Independence. Keeping with the promise of unfurling the flag in space, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be launching its smallest commercial rocket Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) on August 7, which will also carry the national flag into space.
While the PM’s promise was to “undertake a manned space mission on board ‘Gaganyaan’ carrying the national flag”, that project has been delayed.
ISRO’s SSLV, however, is a feat on its own as it was developed to place satellites and payloads weighing less than 500 kg into the earth’s lower orbit. The official launch will take place from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 9:18 am on August 7.
To mark country’s celebrations of ‘Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, the SSLV will have a co-passenger satellite called ‘AzaadiSAT’ comprising 75 payloads built by 750 young girl students from 75 rural government schools across India. This project was specially conceptualised for the 75th Independence Day year celebrations to encourage scientific temper and create opportunities for young girls to choose space research as their career.
The SSLV weighs around 120 tonnes and can carry up to 500 kg into space standing tall at the height of 34 metres, the launcher is considered to be one of the best and cost-effective workhorse from the ISRO stable.
ISRO chairman S Somanath calls the new satellite a “game changer” that will drive India’s dreams of breaking into the lucrative and booming small satellite launch market. With the shortest turnaround time, this cost-effective rocket, which can be launched on demand, has been designed for large-scale production. With its successful launch, the SSLV will help create more collaborations between the space sector and other private Indian companies especially in the global market for small satellites.
ISRO officials told News18 that the SSLV is capable of launching mini, micro and Nano satellites (10-500 kg mass) in the 500 km planar orbit. The SSLV aims at designing and developing an agile and experimental satellite with payload imaging. It will also provide for crucial information in the domains of forestry, hydrology, agriculture, soil and costal studies.
“The payloads are integrated by the student team of Space Kidz India. The payloads include a UHF-VHF transponder working in ham radio frequency to enable voice and data transmission to amateur audio operator, a solid state PIN diode-base Radiation counter to measure the ionising radiation in its orbit, a long range transponder and a selfie camera,” ISRO said.
“The ground station system developed by Space Kidz India will be utilised for receiving the data from this satellite,” it added.
ISRO confirmed that ‘AzaadiSAT’ will be carrying out “femto experiments”.
A senior official further said young students have developed an 8-kg satellite and the payloads will also have an accelerometer, temperature sensors and radiation counters gyroscope, and the satellite’s life expectancy is estimated to be of six months. IN-SPACeIND and SpaceKidz India have signed an MoU for ‘AzaadiSAT’.
Rifath Sharook, Chief Technology Officer of Space Kidz India, said theirs was a “first of its kind” space mission. “This is the first of its kind of an all-women concept to promote women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as this year’s UN theme is ‘Women in Space’,” Rifath told PTI.