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Exclusive Part II: New ISRO chief on the 2 major launches this year

India would launch two major space missions in the 75th year of Independence. New ISRO Chairman S Somanath speaks to Asianet News

Exclusive Part II: New ISRO chairman S Somanath on the two major launches in 2022
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Thiruvananthapuram, First Published Jan 13, 2022, 9:30 AM IST
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India would launch two major space missions in the 75th year of Independence. The Indian Space Research Organisation is in an advanced stage of developing the Reusable Launch Vehicle. A flight to a low-earth orbit is expected soon. S Somanath, who was appointed as ISRO chairman on Wednesday, told Asianet News in an exclusive interview that the first launch of Small Satellite Launch Vehicle is also expected within a few months. Read Part 1 of this exclusive interview.

"There is a lot of interest in low-cost launch vehicles. Worldwide there are many new entrants. It is opening up good competition in launch services. ISRO is also on the same path. Though Covid delayed some of our plans, we are hopeful of completing the landing trial -- or testing the landing gear mechanism – of RLV very soon," he said.

"It is a fixed-wing model which lands like a normal aircraft. We have done extensive trials and experiments. The actual landing has to be tested soon. Once we are satisfied with the results, we will use it for a low-orbit flight before yearend. The SSLV design and development are almost done. We will be launching it within months," he said.

According to Somanath, ISRO's assessment of global developments has two parts. "One, a particular development as a commercial competition (Like Elon Musk's Falcon rocket) and two, how we need to adapt and adopt," he said.

"So RLV is a priority. It will bring down the cost of launch drastically. Similarly, we need launch vehicles that can be used even up to 15 times. Any scaling down of costs would reflect on more launches and eventually reach its benefits to more people," Somanath said.

As an example, Somanath cites the proportionate impact that a fleet of satellites would have on communication technology. "We aim to have the capability of transmitting directly to handheld devices without any time-lapse. This will revolutionise the information and infotainment industry. Similarly, the low-cost launch will also help improve space application using remote sensing satellites or other low-orbit satellites. This makes the revisit time significantly less. And with the help of Artificial Intelligence, we hope to roll out services that touch more lives," he said.

"The development of new engines and new materials can also bring down launch costs. More eyes in the sky would undoubtedly help fine-tune existing meteorological models along with other observation needs," he added.

Also Read: ISRO to launch SSLV in first quarter of 2022, Govt approves Rs 169 crores for project

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