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Isro aims to make India a global hub for satellite building

Space agency lines up 60 satellite launches over next five years

T E Narasimhan  |  New Delhi 

PSLV C38 carrying Cartosat-2 and 30 other satellites, lifts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota,  on  June 23, 2016. The 104 small satellite launched by PSLV last year had caught the interest of global satellite makers
PSLV C38 carrying Cartosat-2 and 30 other satellites, lifts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, on June 23, 2016. The 104 small satellite launched by PSLV last year had caught the interest of global satellite makers. Photo: Reuters

To make India a hub for manufacturing, the (Isro) has floated a tender inviting private firms to bid and build 30 satellites, nearly half of its requirement over the next five years. 

The space agency has lined up 60 launches over the next five years, including a repeat mission to the moon with a rover.

“What we are trying to do in general is enabling capacity building in the country,” Chairman A S Kiran Kumar told Business Standard. “We are enabling industries working for and new companies to not only provide solutions and systems to us, but also provide to the space systems. Now, there is an opportunity because some of the things can happen at a significantly lower cost in India compared to others. So, these companies can become part of the supply chain.”

The would identify four to five private players by February for building satellites, and would launch three-four satellites built by them by next year, he said. The tender also allows private firms to absorb technology from foreign firms. Each would cost Rs 150-400 crore. About 14 firms had shown interest, said sources.

The space agency had explored outsourcing manufacturing over a decade ago but failed due to low volumes.

“Today, the volume is available,” M Annadurai, director of Centre said. “Over the next three-four years, India needs to realise around 60-70 satellites, besides replacing the existing ones that complete its life. We need at least 18-20 satellites every year after five years. This volume will be sustainable, which makes good business sense for private firms.”

Both Kumar and Annadurai on Monday participated in an international seminar on Indian space programme — Trends and Opportunities for Industry — organised by and in New Delhi.

The space agency has already started forming a private consortium — which includes Godrej, Larsen & Toubro, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and its commercial arm, Antrix Corp — that will assemble the country’s first PSLV rocket by 2020. 

This, hoped, would also help the consortium scout for orders to assemble satellites, launch these on the Indian rocket and provide solutions using the engineering talent in the country.

For satellites, it has already selected a consortium, led by Bengaluru-based aerospace firm Alpha Design Technologies, to build a navigation satellite, Navic, early this year. A second Navic is expected to be ready by March. Besides Alpha, over a dozen other companies, including Dhruv Aerospace, Ananth Technologies and Team Indus, are in the fray for the manufacturing contract.

However, the agency said India was at a sweet spot to emerge as a hub for space activities. The country’s Polar Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is already a preferred rocket to hurl small satellites for firms. The 104 small launched by PSLV last year had caught the interest of makers.

The sees an opportunity to handhold the supplier base, which have built systems and components for its rockets and satellites, for upgrading their capability to integrate satellites.

Isro aims to make India a global hub for satellite building

First Published: Tue, November 21 2017. 01:41 IST
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