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Countdown for ISRO's first launch mission of 2023 SSLV-D2 to commence on Friday

WION logo WION 09-02-2023 Prisha
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The 6 hours 30-minute countdown to Friday's 9:18 am launch of India's SSLV-D2 mission would commence at 2:48 am on Friday, February 10th. This will mark the first space rocket launch for India in the calendar year 2023 and also the second flight of the newest and lightest Indian rocket, the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV). Notably, the maiden launch of SSLV on August 7, 2022 had failed and Friday's launch attempt will be an opportunity for ISRO to establish the capability of their newest launch vehicle. The rocket will lift off from the first launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Andhra Pradesh.

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In terms of technical specifications, the SSLV is a three-stage Launch Vehicle configured with three Solid Propulsion Stages and a liquid propulsion-based Velocity Trimming Module (VTM) as a terminal stage. SSLV measures 2m in diameter and 34m in length, with lift-off weight of nearly 120 tonnes. SSLV is capable of launching 500kg payloads in orbits 500km above the earth's surface. The key features of SSLV are low-cost, with low turn-around time, flexibility in accommodating multiple satellites, launch on-demand feasibility, minimal launch infrastructure requirements, etc.

SSLV is a simple and easy-to-build rocket when compared to ISRO's routine launchers such as the PSLV, GSLV and LVM3. The SSLV is a rocket that is powered almost entirely by solid fuel, whereas the PSLV is powered by solid and liquid fuels and the GSLV series of rockets are powered by solid, liquid and cryogenic fuels. Being powered by solid fuel also means that the SSLV rocket stages can be assembled at short notice or even be stored with fuel onboard. It is said that it takes less than a week for a handful of engineers and technicians to assemble the SSLV, in contrast with hundreds of personnel and anywhere between 30-45 days for assembling India's larger rockets.

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Generally, the first two or three flights of a new rocket are known as "developmental flights". These are opportunities for the rocket to showcase its real-world performance and worthiness as a dependable launcher. While several aspects of a rocket's flight can be simulated and studied, the experience and scientific data gained from a launch are most crucial to understand the characteristics of the vehicle. Following two or three developmental flights, the rocket is declared operational and is used for routine missions. 

During the maiden launch, a vibration disturbance caused during the vehicle's second stage separation affected the on-board sensors data and software built into the rocket had taken corrective actions to perform the satellite injection. However, the satellites were not injected into the requisite orbit and also lacked the velocity to remain in a stable orbit. This meant that the payloads were lost and the mission was unsuccessful, though many of the vehicle's flight parameters were demonstrated well.

During Friday's mission, the SSLV would be injecting India's EOS-7, an Earth Observation Satellite that weighs 156.3kg and two passenger satellites Janus-1(weighing 10.2kg) from the USA and student satellite AzaadiSAT-2 (weighing 8.8kg) into a 450km circular orbit.  

(With inputs from agencies)

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