Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is developing a rocket that can be assembled in merely three days as compared to 30-40 days for a normal-sized Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
The new launch vehicle can be built in one-tenth the original manufacturing cost of a PSLV. The manufacturing cost of a launch vehicle is generally in the range of Rs 150 crore to Rs 500 crore across the world.
Director of Thiruvananthapuram-based Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Dr K Sivan, at an global seminar on "Indian Space Programme" said, "ISRO is busy developing a small launch vehicle which is likely to be ready for launch probably by 2018-end or early-2019".
According to ISRO, the Aditya-1 mission was conceived as a 400kg class satellite carrying one payload, the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC) and was planned to launch in a 800 km low earth orbit.
India has a large number of satellites in the near-earth orbit which are used for earth imaging, weather tracking and reconnaissance.
Dr K Sivan explaining the programme said, "The amount of money used in building a normal-size PSLV rocket can actually be used to manufacture multiple numbers of such mini-PSLVs, which, in turn, can launch several satellites". This way, the ISRO will be able to launch several satellites using very little money.
This new launch vehicle will be ready by the end of next year or early 2019. Like a normal PSLV, he said, "Such small vehicles will too be capable of launching multiple nano satellites". Until now, satellites of foreign customers are accommodated in launch vehicles only as secondary passengers.
ISRO chief AS Kiran Kumar underlined that the agency is not into space for tourism as it is yet to fully harness the capabilities of space technology for India, but added that private players can participate in the rapidly growing global space adventure market.
This year in the month of February Isro workhouse PSLV C37 had launched 104 satellites, which mostly had foreign customers.