2019 - A Big Year For Indian Military in Space

Parthu

Gessler
Team StratFront
Dec 1, 2017
937
1,159
23
Vizag, India
The current year promises to bring much more than anyone could have expected with regard to Indian space applications of a military nature. The totally out-of-the-blue test of an ASAT weapon being case in point. In that spirit, I rounded up some of the important projects that have implications for the military, and are set to go into orbit (not always figuratively-speaking in this case!) this year.

Before I head into discussing what is yet to come, I take a moment to mention what has already been done: On 24th January this year, ISRO's PSLV-C44 launch mission had placed into orbit a rather mysterious satellite with very little-known specs & even little-know mission profile -

...the Microsat-R

pslv-c-44-set-for-launch_326e3300-2053-11e9-8086-344fce0efcf3.jpg


There were many speculations on the purpose of this satellite and its payload, with assertions ranging from a Technology-Demonstration mission to a dedicated Reconnaissance payload. Although, given the unstable orbit of the satellite (a combined result of where it was placed and certain unexpected maneuvers which depleted its fuel), it's unlikely to have been anything but a Tech-Demo platform. The Microsat-R is the satellite believed to have been destroyed in the ASAT test on 27th March - after merely 2 months in orbit.

++++

Another mission that deserves mention is of course, the ASAT weapon itself. Officially dubbed the PDV Mk-2, developed by the nodal Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), the missile is basically an upper stage/nose section taken from the original PDV (an exo-atmospheric interceptor developed as part of Phase-I of the nation's BMD program), combined with a lower boost stage that appears to be derived from a solid-fuel ballistic missile (most likely the K-4 SLBM, which itself draws on the tech of the land-based Agni-3 and Agni-5 missiles).

DRDO ASAT 5.PNG

Pic credit: Press Information Bureau

The weapon, developed under the shrouded Mission Shakti, reportedly destroyed the targeted satellite at an altitude of about ~300 kilometers in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO). The altitude, combined with the decaying orbit of the supposed target (Microsat-R) means that most, if not all, of the debris created by the destruction of the satellite would fall back to the Earth, burning up in the atmosphere, within an year's time. A test against a satellite in a much higher orbit (like around the ~850 kms mark, where the Chinese conducted their ASAT test back in 2007) would have resulted in the debris to largely stick around for near-indefinite periods, posing massive hazards to spacecraft.

The test, despite being aimed against a satellite, has even greater implications toward the BMD program and the mid-course interception capability against ballistic missiles. This is a pivotal moment in India's quest for self-sufficiency in offensive & defensive uses of missile technology & rocketry.


PDV (Mk-1), an Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) test-bed first launched in 2014. The predecessor of the PDV Mk-2 ASAT missile

The ASAT test demonstrated a Kinetic Kill Vehicle (KKV) in action, which is a Hit-to-Kill (HTK)-based interception. No mean feat. Obviously, this is only the first step in the nation's road to having a viable, deployed capability to target & destroy the enemy's satellites which support their reconnaissance, navigation, and communication abilities - an important ability to have for a country that may well be one of the few nations who will draft a future Space Warfare-NPT.

Beautifully explained by defence journalist Saurav Jha here: Mission Shakti cements India’s position at the ‘Space NPT’ high table

++++

Now, moving on to what is yet to come...

EMISAT

Scheduled for launch very soon (1st of April), the EMISAT will share a ride alongside 28 other satellite payloads on ISRO's PSLV-C45 mission. Much like the Microsat-R (which was developed by DRDO, not ISRO), the mission profile and purpose of the EMISAT remain a product of inference. The most logical among which points at an ELINT-based mission & payload. Although the 'official' word is concerning "electromagnetic spectrum measurements".

PSLV-C45 EMISAT.PNG

The EMISAT and its co-passengers on the C45 mission being enclosed in the fairing of the PSLV. Pic credit: ISRO

The PSLV-C45 mission will also carry 24 American, 2 Lithuanian and a satellite each from Switzerland & Spain, alongside the main EMISAT payload. Regarding the speculations on the purpose of its mission, I direct the reader to this well-written piece from Maxima Vigilantia: ISRO's EMISAT: Electronic Spy in Space

An excerpt:

" The absence of large antenna (unless it has an unfurlable mesh antenna which isn't visible in render) indicates that EMISAT appears to be designed to intercept directed microwave transmissions. The microwave link between a satellite and ground station is highly directional. To intercept tight beam transmission, eavesdropper satellite has to be placed between the ground station and the target satellite. Another use of EMISAT is to determine the location of radar emitters (ground and naval) and command nodes. A single EMISAT will be able to determine the probable location of radio emitters, however, for increased DF (direction finding) accuracy multiple satellites are required.

American SIGINT satellite Orion has a 255 feet diameter unfurlable antenna which can detect signals from a wristwatch-sized radio. Orion satellites are used for intercepting missile telemetry/datalink signals and monitoring microwave traffic. SIGINT satellites like Orion are prohibitively expensive ($750 million each) for a country like India. EMISAT is a low-cost alternative. A cluster of EMISATs could mimic functions of a large satellite by sharing processing, communication and mission functions at a fraction of the cost. "

I leave the reader to draw their own conclusions.

++++

CARTOSAT-3

The next-generation of Earth-imaging satellites from ISRO, and successor to the CARTOSAT-2 series. Scheduled for launch sometime in April on the PSLV-C46. The previous generation (Cartosat-2) had panchromatic cameras that could provide a 1m resolution with 9.6 kms swath. The new Cartosat-3 is capable of 0.25m resolutions in panchromatic mode with 16 kms swath - a significant improvement. Resolutions of about 1m in Multi-spectral mode and 12m in Hyper-spectral mode are also available on the 3rd Generation.

CARTOSAT-3 Edit.PNG


The Cartosat-3 project was delayed multiple times owing to requirements toward finishing other pending missions (and recent re-directing of greater efforts toward the 2022 target for Human Spaceflight), and some further delays (possible slip into Q2 2019) cannot be ruled out at the moment. Like the -2, the -3 is only the forerunner of a series, which will include planned 3A and 3B missions as well:

CARTOSAT-3A, CARTOSAT-3B.png

Although the CARTOSAT series never had an explicitly stated strategic mission, the implications for the same are pretty obvious.

++++

RISAT-2BR1

The next in line in the RISAT category of dedicated military radar-reconnaissance satellites. The 2BR1 provides continuity of service from the RISAT-2 launched in 2009. The original RISAT-2 was an Israeli TecSAR-1 that had to be procured on an emergency basis owing to the delayed development of the rest of the RISAT family, which were all indigenous. The RISAT series are equipped with a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) array, and the 2BR1 is no different. It carries the most advanced SAR array ever deployed by an Indian satellite (the older TecSAR radar was already superseded in capability by the indigenous RISAT-1 launched in 2012, yes, the "1" was launched after the "2").

Risat-2A.jpg

RISAT-2A. The 2BR1 arrangement of sensors will slightly differ, but the mission will be more or less the same.

The 2BR1, weighing approximately 1.2 tons, is scheduled for a May 2019 launch, and will be followed by additional -1 and -2 series sats, like the RISAT-2A, 2B (X-band) and RISAT-1A & 1B (C-band) in the coming years (2020-21).


Samples of RISAT-1's typical imagery data


RISAT-1 has a different arrangement of sensors (mostly owing to the different band used for SAR) compared to the 2-series
++++

SSLV - Launch on Demand
For purposes of this article, I would refer to this capability as SLOD (Satellite Launch-on-Demand). This technology, currently being pursued by both India & China, affords the ability to quickly establish a level of satellite-based functions (mostly with regard to Earth-observation and monitoring military movements on the ground) with small cubesats in low(er) orbits, in the event the existing long-term (10-15 year lifespans) satellites are destroyed by an enemy's ASAT weapons during active hostilities.

6.PNG


The SSLV, the newest member of ISRO's rocket family, is the platform which will afford India a real strategic SLOD capability. In the context of the inevitable militarization of space, I would broadly categorize the necessary capabilities into four sections:

a) Ability to launch large, long-term satellite payloads
b) Ability to knock down an opponent's satellites
c) Ability to 'snatch & grab' a satellite or other payload in space, and bring it back to Earth
d) Ability to quickly re-establish a limited satellite-based capability set in the event of existing sats being lost to enemy action and fixed launch pads being destroyed

From the above four principle, basic needs for having a sound base for conducting Space-Warfare, India already had A for a long time. B has just been live-tested. C will be afforded once the RLV-TD program matures into a Boeing X37B/C-analogue. And the SSLV will see to obtaining the capability represented in D.

The solid-fuel SSLV can be fully prepared for launch on a 15-day notice. Compared to the 70-day preparation it takes for a current full fledged liquid-fueled space rocket like the PSLV. The modular stages of the SSLV are designed to be assembled by a skeleton crew in a matter of 72 hours, and the launch and pre-flight checks can be managed by a single Personal Computer (these details excerpted from a report quoting ISRO's chairman, link below). Like many technologies in this field, the SSLV is a thoroughly dual-use system. But for the purposes of this article, I'm only going over its military/strategic uses.

SSLV will offer cost-effective satellite launch options in India: Antrix CMD

The SSLVs, owing to the nature of their solid-fuel stages, are more akin to a ballistic missile than a rocket - and to that effect, the SSLV (or a specific military variant developed from it) can be used by the Air Force in two different ways:

  • Strategic stockpiles of parts, such as the fuel/oxidizer stages, rocket motors, payload fairings and of course, the satellite payloads themselves, can be maintained in secure locations, ready to be assembled by a fully military-employed crew in the event of hostilities and rising tensions. These assembled LVs can then be either moved to military-owned launch pads (like the United States' Vandenberg AFB) or put on mobile platforms for a more survivable launch system.
  • The fully assembled rocket, already mated with pre-determined payloads, can be stored in hermetically-sealed canisters (much like Agni-5 ballistic missiles or Brahmos cruise missiles) mounted on 16x16 or bigger all-terrain vechiles (like the Russian Topol-M ICBM). This is likely the more complicated of launch/storage options (not least because for precise orbital injections, liquid-fuel based Velocity Trimming Modules are used. But this could be mitigated by the future use of Ion thrusters (aka Hall Thrusters) on the payload bay. Similar thrusters, already being developed by ISRO, are generally used for in-space satellite propulsion for orbit-raising and trimming purposes), but also this is the more survivable one.
I'm sure the ideas for a submarine-launched SLOD is already floating in your heads by now.

Speaking of the rocket itself, it's going to be 34m long, with a 2m diameter and weighing about 120 tons, with a payload capacity of 500 kgs to a 500 kms LEO orbit. Various payload-configurations are possible within that capacity, depending on the weight of the satellite(s):

3.PNG


The SSLV is set for a debut launch in Q3 (most likely August) this year, followed by another scheduled test either in Q4 or early 2020. In my opinion, the small SSLV deserves more watching that the big GSLV Mk-3s. Even in the civilian sector, the commercial implications bought forth by the SSLV will be tremendous.

++++

SCE-200 Semi-Cryogenic Engine

The next step in big rocket propulsion for ISRO. Although it doesn't have a direct strategic/military implication, it certainly has an indirect one - bigger rockets mean bigger payloads, and eventually & inevitably, bigger military payloads. The first tests of the engine are likely to occur this year at ISRO's Propulsion Complex in the high-altitude region of Mahendragiri.


In a single (left), and a clustered configuration (right)

The SCE-200 traces its lineage way back to the original Soviet RD-120 family of rocket engines. The designs (which although did not include engineering models and related documentation, which meant India had to develop a lot of tech to go with the design and adapt it) were transferred to India by Ukraine's Yuzhnoye Design Office/Bureau - which had a hand in Soviet engine development before the 1991 break-up. The Yuzhnoye design is called RD-810, and it was this design which was transferred.

The Chinese YF-100 and YF-115 engines, used today on Long March-5/6/7 rockets are also derived from the same RD-120 family.



All in all, the 2,000kN SCE-200 engines and its future derivatives will play an extremely crucial role in powering India's future launch vechiles, such as the planned MLV family, with GTO payload capacities reaching 16 tons and LEO capacities reaching 41 tons (bigger than Ariane 64):

MLV.PNG


...besides having implications for the various re-usable launcher technologies being worked on at the moment by ISRO. Truly interesting times ahead.

Anything I've missed? Tell me - and discuss below.

@randomradio @Ashwin @Amal @vstol Jockey @Falcon @Milspec @BMD @Maximus @Gautam @Shajida Khan @Austerlitz @GuardianRED @Picdelamirand-oil @A Person @nair @Arpit @Himanshu @Grevion @Marqueur @The Deterrent @safriz @ everyone else
 
Last edited:

GuardianRED

Call Sign "RED"
Dec 2, 2017
474
279
The current year promises to bring much more than anyone could have expected with regard to Indian space applications of a military nature. The totally out-of-the-blue test of an ASAT weapon being case in point. In that spirit, I rounded up some of the important projects that have implications for the military, and are set to go into orbit (not always figuratively-speaking in this case!) this year.

Before I head into discussing what is yet to come, I take a moment to mention what has already been done: On 24th January this year, ISRO's PSLV-C44 launch mission had placed into orbit a rather mysterious satellite with very little-known specs & even little-know mission profile -

...the Microsat-R

View attachment 5606

There were many speculations on the purpose of this satellite and its payload, with assertions ranging from a Technology-Demonstration mission to a dedicated Reconnaissance payload. Although, given the unstable orbit of the satellite (a combined result of where it was placed and certain unexpected maneuvers which depleted its fuel), it's unlikely to have been anything but a Tech-Demo platform. The Microsat-R is the satellite believed to have been destroyed in the ASAT test on 27th March - after merely 2 months in orbit.

++++

Another mission that deserves mention is of course, the ASAT weapon itself. Officially dubbed the PDV Mk-2, developed by the nodal Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), the missile is basically an upper stage/nose section taken from the original PDV (an exo-atmospheric interceptor developed as part of Phase-I of the nation's BMD program), combined with a lower boost stage that appears to be derived from a solid-fuel ballistic missile (most likely the K-4 SLBM, which itself draws on the tech of the land-based Agni-3 and Agni-5 missiles).


Pic credit: Press Information Bureau

The weapon, developed under the shrouded Mission Shakti, reportedly destroyed the targeted satellite at an altitude of about ~300 kilometers in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO). The altitude, combined with the decaying orbit of the supposed target (Microsat-R) means that most, if not all, of the debris created by the destruction of the satellite would fall back to the Earth, burning up in the atmosphere, within an year's time. A test against a satellite in a much higher orbit (like around the ~850 kms mark, where the Chinese conducted their ASAT test back in 2007) would have resulted in the debris to largely stick around for near-indefinite periods, posing massive hazards to spacecraft.

The test, despite being aimed against a satellite, has even greater implications toward the BMD program and the mid-course interception capability against ballistic missiles. This is a pivotal moment in India's quest for self-sufficiency in offensive & defensive uses of missile technology & rocketry.


PDV (Mk-1), an Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) test-bed first launched in 2014. The predecessor of the PDV Mk-2 ASAT missile

The ASAT test demonstrated a Kinetic Kill Vehicle (KKV) in action, which is a Hit-to-Kill (HTK)-based interception. No mean feat. Obviously, this is only the first step in the nation's road to having a viable, deployed capability to target & destroy the enemy's satellites which support their reconnaissance, navigation, and communication abilities - an important ability to have for a country that may well be one of the few nations who will draft a future Space Warfare-NPT.

Beautifully explained by defence journalist Saurav Jha here: Mission Shakti cements India’s position at the ‘Space NPT’ high table

++++

Now, moving on to what is yet to come...

EMISAT

Scheduled for launch very soon (1st of April), the EMISAT will share a ride alongside 28 other satellite payloads on ISRO's PSLV-C45 mission. Much like the Microsat-R (which was developed by DRDO, not ISRO), the mission profile and purpose of the EMISAT remain a product of inference. The most logical among which points at an ELINT-based mission & payload. Although the 'official' word is concerning "electromagnetic spectrum measurements".


The EMISAT and its co-passengers on the C45 mission being enclosed in the fairing of the PSLV. Pic credit: ISRO

The PSLV-C45 mission will also carry 24 American, 2 Lithuanian and a satellite each from Switzerland & Spain, alongside the main EMISAT payload. Regarding the speculations on the purpose of its mission, I direct the reader to this well-written piece from Maxima Vigilantia: ISRO's EMISAT: Electronic Spy in Space

An excerpt:

" The absence of large antenna (unless it has an unfurlable mesh antenna which isn't visible in render) indicates that EMISAT appears to be designed to intercept directed microwave transmissions. The microwave link between a satellite and ground station is highly directional. To intercept tight beam transmission, eavesdropper satellite has to be placed between the ground station and the target satellite. Another use of EMISAT is to determine the location of radar emitters (ground and naval) and command nodes. A single EMISAT will be able to determine the probable location of radio emitters, however, for increased DF (direction finding) accuracy multiple satellites are required.

American SIGINT satellite Orion has a 255 feet diameter unfurlable antenna which can detect signals from a wristwatch-sized radio. Orion satellites are used for intercepting missile telemetry/datalink signals and monitoring microwave traffic. SIGINT satellites like Orion are prohibitively expensive ($750 million each) for a country like India. EMISAT is a low-cost alternative. A cluster of EMISATs could mimic functions of a large satellite by sharing processing, communication and mission functions at a fraction of the cost. "

I leave the reader to draw their own conclusions.

++++

CARTOSAT-3

The next-generation of Earth-imaging satellites from ISRO, and successor to the CARTOSAT-2 series. Scheduled for launch sometime in April on the PSLV-C46. The previous generation (Cartosat-2) had panchromatic cameras that could provide a 1m resolution with 9.6 kms swath. The new Cartosat-3 is capable of 0.25m resolutions in panchromatic mode with 16 kms swath - a significant improvement. Resolutions of about 1m in Multi-spectral mode and 12m in Hyper-spectral mode are also available on the 3rd Generation.

View attachment 5516

The Cartosat-3 project was delayed multiple times owing to requirements toward finishing other pending missions (and recent re-directing of greater efforts toward the 2022 target for Human Spaceflight), and some further delays (possible slip into Q2 2019) cannot be ruled out at the moment. Like the -2, the -3 is only the forerunner of a series, which will include planned 3A and 3B missions as well:


Although the CARTOSAT series never had an explicitly stated strategic mission, the implications for the same are pretty obvious.

++++

RISAT-2BR1

The next in line in the RISAT category of dedicated military radar-reconnaissance satellites. The 2BR1 provides continuity of service from the RISAT-2 launched in 2009. The original RISAT-2 was an Israeli TecSAR-1 that had to be procured on an emergency basis owing to the delayed development of the rest of the RISAT family, which were all indigenous. The RISAT series are equipped with a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) array, and the 2BR1 is no different. It carries the most advanced SAR array ever deployed by an Indian satellite (the older TecSAR radar was already superseded in capability by the indigenous RISAT-1 launched in 2012, yes, the "1" was launched after the "2").

View attachment 5522
RISAT-2A. The 2BR1 arrangement of sensors will slightly differ, but the mission will be more or less the same.

The 2BR1, weighing approximately 1.2 tons, is scheduled for a May 2019 launch, and will be followed by additional -1 and -2 series sats, like the RISAT-2A, 2B (X-band) and RISAT-1A & 1B (C-band) in the coming years (2020-21).


Samples of RISAT-1's typical imagery data



RISAT-1 has a different arrangement of sensors (mostly owing to the different band used for SAR) compared to the 2-series

++++

SSLV - Launch on Demand

For purposes of this article, I would refer to this capability as SLOD (Satellite Launch-on-Demand). This technology, currently being pursued by both India & China, affords the ability to quickly establish a level of satellite-based functions (mostly with regard to Earth-observation and monitoring military movements on the ground) with small cubesats in low(er) orbits, in the event the existing long-term (10-15 year lifespans) satellites are destroyed by an enemy's ASAT weapons during active hostilities.

View attachment 5518

The SSLV, the newest member of ISRO's rocket family, is the platform which will afford India a real strategic SLOD capability. In the context of the inevitable militarization of space, I would broadly categorize the necessary capabilities into four sections:

a) Ability to launch large, long-term satellite payloads
b) Ability to knock down an opponent's satellites
c) Ability to 'snatch & grab' a satellite or other payload in space, and bring it back to Earth
d) Ability to quickly re-establish a limited satellite-based capability set in the event of existing sats being lost to enemy action and fixed launch pads being destroyed

From the above four principle, basic needs for having a sound base for conducting Space-Warfare, India already had A for a long time. B has just been live-tested. C will be afforded once the RLV-TD program matures into a Boeing X37B/C-analogue. And the SSLV will see to obtaining the capability represented in D.

The solid-fuel SSLV can be fully prepared for launch on a 15-day notice. Compared to the 70-day preparation it takes for a current full fledged liquid-fueled space rocket like the PSLV. The modular stages of the SSLV are designed to be assembled by a skeleton crew in a matter of 72 hours, and the launch and pre-flight checks can be managed by a single Personal Computer (these details excerpted from a report quoting ISRO's chairman, link below). Like many technologies in this field, the SSLV is a thoroughly dual-use system. But for the purposes of this article, I'm only going over its military/strategic uses.

SSLV will offer cost-effective satellite launch options in India: Antrix CMD

The SSLVs, owing to the nature of their solid-fuel stages, are more akin to a ballistic missile than a rocket - and to that effect, the SSLV (or a specific military variant developed from it) can be used by the Air Force in two different ways:

  • Strategic stockpiles of parts, such as the fuel/oxidizer stages, rocket motors, payload fairings and of course, the satellite payloads themselves, can be maintained in secure locations, ready to be assembled by a fully military-employed crew in the event of hostilities and rising tensions. These assembled LVs can then be either moved to military-owned launch pads (like the United States' Vandenberg AFB) or put on mobile platforms for a more survivable launch system.
  • The fully assembled rocket, already mated with pre-determined payloads, can be stored in hermetically-sealed canisters (much like Agni-5 ballistic missiles or Brahmos cruise missiles) mounted on 16x16 or bigger all-terrain vechiles (like the Russian Topol-M ICBM). This is likely the more complicated of launch/storage options (not least because for precise orbital injections, liquid-fuel based Velocity Trimming Modules are used. But this could be mitigated by the future use of Ion thrusters (aka Hall Thrusters) on the payload bay. Similar thrusters, already being developed by ISRO, are generally used for in-space satellite propulsion for orbit-raising and trimming purposes), but also this is the more survivable one.
I'm sure the ideas for a submarine-launched SLOD is already floating in your heads by now.

Speaking of the rocket itself, it's going to be 34m long, with a 2m diameter and weighing about 120 tons, with a payload capacity of 500 kgs to a 500 kms LEO orbit. Various payload-configurations are possible within that capacity, depending on the weight of the satellite(s):

View attachment 5519

The SSLV is set for a debut launch in Q3 (most likely August) this year, followed by another scheduled test either in Q4 or early 2020. In my opinion, the small SSLV deserves more watching that the big GSLV Mk-3s. Even in the civilian sector, the commercial implications bought forth by the SSLV will be tremendous.

++++

SCE-200 Semi-Cryogenic Engine

The next step in big rocket propulsion for ISRO. Although it doesn't have a direct strategic/military implication, it certainly has an indirect one - bigger rockets mean bigger payloads, and eventually & inevitably, bigger military payloads. The first tests of the engine are likely to occur this year at ISRO's Propulsion Complex in the high-altitude region of Mahendragiri.


In a single (left), and a clustered configuration (right)

The SCE-200 traces its lineage way back to the original Soviet RD-120 family of rocket engines. The designs (which although did not include engineering models and related documentation, which meant India had to develop a lot of tech to go with the design and adapt it) were transferred to India by Ukraine's Yuzhnoye Design Office/Bureau - which had a hand in Soviet engine development before the 1991 break-up. The Yuzhnoye design is called RD-810, and it was this design which was transferred.

The Chinese YF-100 and YF-115 engines, used today on Long March-5/6/7 rockets are also derived from the same RD-120 family.



All in all, the 2,000kN SCE-200 engines and its future derivatives will play an extremely crucial role in powering India's future launch vechiles, such as the planned MLV family, with GTO payload capacities reaching 16 tons and LEO capacities reaching 41 tons (bigger than Ariane 64):

View attachment 5521

...besides having implications for the various re-usable launcher technologies being worked on at the moment by ISRO. Truly interesting times ahead.

Anything I've missed? Tell me - and discuss below.

@randomradio @Ashwin @Amal @vstol Jockey @Falcon @Milspec @BMD @Maximus @Gautam @Shajida Khan @Austerlitz @GuardianRED @Picdelamirand-oil @A Person @nair @Arpit @Himanshu @Grevion @Marqueur @The Deterrent @safriz @ everyone else
Excellent Write Up ... ISRO projects are always exciting to follow

The SSLV is of real interest here - The queries i have are

1) Would we soon see the formation of a Space Command - would this be tri service or the IAF will take lead? .
2) Instead of a Space command - wouldn't a Military Detachment train specifically for the military usage of the SSLV - could have a permanent setup at ISRO facilities - thus reducing the need for duplication of launch facilities ?
3) As mention in your post - The SSLV can be seal for much like the Agni 5. What abt the payload - do these have a self life too?

W.r.t - The ASAT missile or taking down of the enemies Satellites - and ability of re- launching of satellites to retain capabilities - reminds of the the Tom Clancy novel - "Red Storm Rising" :)
 

randomradio

Senior member
Senior Member
Nov 30, 2017
7,145
2,589
India
Excellent Write Up ... ISRO projects are always exciting to follow

The SSLV is of real interest here - The queries i have are

1) Would we soon see the formation of a Space Command - would this be tri service or the IAF will take lead? .
2) Instead of a Space command - wouldn't a Military Detachment train specifically for the military usage of the SSLV - could have a permanent setup at ISRO facilities - thus reducing the need for duplication of launch facilities ?
3) As mention in your post - The SSLV can be seal for much like the Agni 5. What abt the payload - do these have a self life too?

W.r.t - The ASAT missile or taking down of the enemies Satellites - and ability of re- launching of satellites to retain capabilities - reminds of the the Tom Clancy novel - "Red Storm Rising" :)
Space Command will be tri-services.

As for SSLV, I think the main goal is for making money. The military benefits will be secondary.

Our ASAT capability is still in its nascent stage. We need the ability to destroy satellites in GTO.
 

_Anonymous_

Senior member
Senior Member
Dec 4, 2017
10,862
4,377
Mumbai
Space Command will be tri-services.

As for SSLV, I think the main goal is for making money. The military benefits will be secondary.

Our ASAT capability is still in its nascent stage. We need the ability to destroy satellites in GTO.
G Sathish Reddy is quoted as having said that the present ASAT can go as high as 1000 kms.
 

Parthu

Gessler
Team StratFront
Dec 1, 2017
937
1,159
23
Vizag, India
Excellent Write Up ... ISRO projects are always exciting to follow

The SSLV is of real interest here - The queries i have are

1) Would we soon see the formation of a Space Command - would this be tri service or the IAF will take lead? .
Right now, the Integrated Space Cell functions as the body responsible for military applications of space, and it is a tri-service department directly under GoI. However, the ISC is not an exclusively defence-centered organization, it sort of acts as a bridge between ISRO/DoS and the Armed Forces.

But in future, the Defence Space Agency (DSA) will take shape. This will act as a true tri-service space command which will control space-related assets and activities pertaining to all Armed Forces exclusively, however, each service is still likely to have their own Space cell. The exact role & mandate of DSA is not yet public knowledge - but we can reasonably assume, that it will be the agency in charge of our strategic space assets & weapons in the future.

2) Instead of a Space command - wouldn't a Military Detachment train specifically for the military usage of the SSLV - could have a permanent setup at ISRO facilities - thus reducing the need for duplication of launch facilities ?
3) As mention in your post - The SSLV can be seal for much like the Agni 5. What abt the payload - do these have a self life too?
The military usage of SSLV has not been stated or confirmed by anyone - it is merely a product of inference, drawing from the various strategic applications that a launch vehicle of that nature could entail. If at all a fleet of SSLVs are indeed to be maintained by the military (which I do think is a very likely scenario), then more than likely it will be under the DSA. However, it will require the military to construct their own launch pads and storage sites - and this real estate will definitely have to come from the Air Force.

Just like it does in the US.

Vandenberg Air Force Base - Wikipedia

G Sathish Reddy is quoted as having said that the present ASAT can go as high as 1000 kms.
That is still LEO. Satellites in Geosynchronous orbits are at upto 36,000 kms.

I have no doubt, that the weapon we already tested (PDV Mk-2 aka XSV-1) is very well capable of mopping the floor with any LEO satellite. But GEO sats require a different level of ASAT capability - it remains to be seen if we will test such (China hasn't, so far) or if we will choose to stop with LEO considering it to be another "minimum credible deterrence".

Logic dictates, that if China decides to test a GEO-ASAT weapon, the US & India will have to follow suit.
 
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randomradio

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G Sathish Reddy is quoted as having said that the present ASAT can go as high as 1000 kms.
For GTO, you need to reach 36,000 Km. That's where you will find comm and navigation satellites.

Up to 1000Km, you will only find spy satellites.

Achieving GTO can be done, all you need to do is add a cryogenic/semi-cryogenic stage before the last stage. The payload itself is not very heavy.
 

Volcano

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For GTO, you need to reach 36,000 Km. That's where you will find comm and navigation satellites.

Up to 1000Km, you will only find spy satellites.

Achieving GTO can be done, all you need to do is add a cryogenic/semi-cryogenic stage before the last stage. The payload itself is not very heavy.
Not only that we will need to develop much powerful radar to track satellites at GTO. Our current Radars are nowhere near that range.
 

Parthu

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The SSLVs, owing to the nature of their solid-fuel stages, are more akin to a ballistic missile than a rocket - and to that effect, the SSLV (or a specific military variant developed from it) can be used by the Air Force in two different ways:

  • Strategic stockpiles of parts, such as the fuel/oxidizer stages, rocket motors, payload fairings and of course, the satellite payloads themselves, can be maintained in secure locations, ready to be assembled by a fully military-employed crew in the event of hostilities and rising tensions. These assembled LVs can then be either moved to military-owned launch pads (like the United States' Vandenberg AFB) or put on mobile platforms for a more survivable launch system.
  • The fully assembled rocket, already mated with pre-determined payloads, can be stored in hermetically-sealed canisters (much like Agni-5 ballistic missiles or Brahmos cruise missiles) mounted on 16x16 or bigger all-terrain vechiles (like the Russian Topol-M ICBM). This is likely the more complicated of launch/storage options (not least because for precise orbital injections, liquid-fuel based Velocity Trimming Modules are used. But this could be mitigated by the future use of Ion thrusters (aka Hall Thrusters) on the payload bay. Similar thrusters, already being developed by ISRO, are generally used for in-space satellite propulsion for orbit-raising and trimming purposes), but also this is the more survivable one.
Turns out the development path of the SSLV indeed is proceeding along the lines as I speculated back in March.

From the horse's mouth: Next for Isro: A mobile launchpad | India News - Times of India

As far as I know, this is the first public admission of the intention for a mobile launch solution for the SSLV. As I had previously noted, the SSLV as a platform is thoroughly dual-use (commercial & military) and to that effect, its mobile launch application is also likely to see development along both paths:

Commercial, off-shore facility (pic of Chinese Long March 11 launch):



Strategic all-terrain application with TEL (Chinese Kuiazhou-1A launch):



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