The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) celebrated the 75th anniversary of India's Independence with the maiden launch of its new rocket Small Satellite Launch Vehicle - Developmental Flight 1 (SSLV-D1) on Sunday.

“Maiden flight of SSLV is completed,” ISRO tweeted.

The SSLV-D1/EOS-02 mission by the Indian space agency is aimed at garnering a larger pie in the small launch vehicles market, as it can place the satellites into Low Earth Orbit.

The Indian space agency developed SSLV to cater for the launch of up to 500 kg satellites to low Earth orbits on a ‘launch-on-demand’ basis. It offers low turn-around time, flexibility in accommodating multiple satellites, launch-on-demand feasibility, and minimal launch infrastructure requirements.

With the new variant, ISRO now has three rockets — Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and its variants (costing ₹200 crore); Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-Mk II and Mk III) and its variants (Mk II costing ₹275 crore and Mk III around ₹435 crore) and SSLV (development cost of around ₹55 crore).

The 34-metre-long SSLV was launched at 9.18 am from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. It carried an earth observation satellite-02 (EOS-02) formerly known as Microsatellite-2 weighing about 145 kg.

SSLV was configured with three solid stages. The satellite insertion into the intended orbit was achieved through a liquid propulsion-based velocity trimming module. It is capable of launching mini, micro, or nanosatellites (10 to 500 kg mass) to a 500 km planar orbit.

EOS-02 is an earth observation satellite designed and realised by ISRO. This microsat series satellite offers advanced optical remote sensing operating in infra-red band with high spatial resolution. AzaadiSAT carries 75 different payloads each weighing around 50 grams and conducting femto-experiments.

Girl students from rural regions across the country were provided guidance to build these payloads. The payloads include a UHF-VHF Transponder working in ham radio frequency to enable voice and data transmission for amateur radio operators, a solid state PIN diode-based Radiation counter to measure the ionising radiation in its orbit and a long-range transponder and a selfie camera. “The ground system developed by ‘Space Kidz India’ will be utilised for receiving the data from this satellite,” the space agency said.

Giving an update on the mission, ISRO in a tweet said, “SSLV-D1 placed the satellites into 356 km x 76 km elliptical orbit instead of 356 km circular orbit. Satellites are no longer usable. Issue is reasonably identified. Failure of logic to identify a sensor failure and go for a salvage action caused the deviation. A committee would analyse and recommend. With the implementation of the recommendations, ISRO will come back soon with SSLV-D2. A detailed statement by Chairman, ISRO will be uploaded soon.”

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