It was supposed to be a great and beautiful day in the history of Indian space exploration, but in space things don’t always go as planned. This was the case at the start of the week when the national agency announced that the satellites were not “usable”.
According to the press release from the Indian space agency (ISRO), the small rocket responsible for the launch suffered a sensor failure. The problem, software, was “see and identify”, assures the space agency this week. Everything was going well for this very first space mission for India and its new rocket, the SSLV.
With its “Small Satellite Launch Vehicle”, India hopes to be able to find a place for itself in the world of space and New Space. If this rocket is the first of its kind to fly from India, the country has a long history in space and in 1975 it was already launching satellites into space.
A risk for other satellites?
With this failure of the SSLV, India nevertheless comes to put another problem on the table: that of space waste. With two satellites floating in orbit around the Earth, ISRO has just wreaked havoc on this area of our sky, already overloaded with constellations like SpaceX’s Starlink.
Because the concern here is not that India failed to launch satellites into orbit, but that the latter were released into an orbit that is not theirs. This makes them unusable, and poses a risk to other satellites in space that could collide with these two “space junk”.
In their new orbit, much more elliptical than expected, the two satellites risk eventually falling back to Earth. This is now the most likely hypothesis and India only communicates on this option, ensuring that the two satellites will quickly burn up in the atmosphere, which are not kept in orbit by any thrust.
A taste of victory
Be that as it may for ISRO, this first flight still has an aftertaste of victory. Indeed, all the main functions of this new rocket worked well and without this minor defect, the satellites would be in orbit around the Earth today.
On the strength of this first flight full of experiences, Shri S. Somanath, the big boss of ISRO, announced that his teams are already working on another launch for the small rocket 34 meters high. Composed of three floors, the latter should be able to operate “on demand” and carry out several private missions in the coming years.