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The SSLV rocket lifting off on its second developmental flight from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre-SHAR, Sriharikota, on February 10, 2023. | Photo Credit: Ragu R./The Hindu

ISRO’s commercial arm NSIL said on June 26 that its newest rocket, the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), will have its first dedicated commercial launch when it puts into orbit the Optimus — a satellite built by Australia-based Space Machines Company.

The announcement was made jointly by NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) and Space Machines Company at the India Space Congress, organised by the Satcom Industry Association-India.

This pioneering collaboration sets the stage for the launch of Space Machines Company’s second Optimus spacecraft, weighing 450 kg, the largest Australian-designed and built spacecraft so far, a statement from NSIL said.

“This will be the first dedicated commercial launch for SSLV. The first commercial launch was Janus, a 10-kilogramme nanosatellite on board the SSLV-D2 mission,” NSIL Chairman and Managing Director Radhakrishnan Durairaj told PTI.

The satellite is slated for a dedicated launch in 2026 onboard the SSLV, a mission that will mark a defining moment for India and Australia in the area of space collaboration.

This mission, named Space MAITRI (Mission for Australia-India’s Technology, Research and Innovation), marks a significant milestone in the strategic partnership between Australia and India in the space domain, fostering closer ties between commercial, institutional and government space organisations from both nations, the NSIL said.

“By combining our innovative spacecraft capabilities with India’s proven launch expertise, we are not only strengthening the ties between our nations’ space sectors but also demonstrating our shared commitment to sustainable space operations,” said Rajat Kulshrestha, CEO and co-founder of Space Machines Company.

By focusing on debris management and sustainability, the mission aligns with the core values and objectives of both countries, promoting responsible space operations and mitigating the growing threat of space debris.