Delayed years because of India’s panic over the Wuhan flu, the first launch of that country’s new Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) failed today when the rocket’s fourth stage apparently did not fire its engines properly.
The problem appeared to be the SSLV’s terminal stage, called the velocity trimming module (VTM). According to the launch profile, the VTM was supposed to have burnt for 20 seconds at 653 seconds after launch. However, it burnt for only 0.1 seconds, denying the rocket of the requisite altitude boost. Two satellites onboard the rocket – the primary EOS-2 Earth-observing satellite and the secondary AzaadiSAT student satellite – separated from the vehicle after the VTM burnt.
As a result, the two satellites were put in an orbit that was too low, which quickly decayed, destroying both.
Since this launch failed, I do not count it in the launch totals for 2022.
Considering that this was SSLV’s first launch, it was in that sense a test, and a failure therefore is not unexpected. India’s real problem is that the launch was delayed so long because of the Wuhan panic, thus allowing other competitors to catch up and pass India. While it is certain ISRO will try again, and eventually succeed, it will not get the market share it would have had, had it launched in 2020 as originally planned.
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