While India has achieved feats which could be envious to many other countries in terms of space missions, the percentage share of Indian commercial offerings is very low compared to the total business volume in the sector across the world, which is at around $335 billion.
However, India has all the technologies available. The mismatch is in terms of the spare capacity available to offer to the global space commerce and Isro is in the process of addressing it with an increasing industry participation and innovations.
Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of Isro, is expecting these efforts will help it to mop up over 10 per cent market share in the space commerce industry in next few years.
In an interaction with T E Narasimhan, Antrix Corporation Chairman-cum-Managing Director Rakesh Sashibhusan speaks about the opportunities, challenges and targets of India’s Space Commerce business. Edited Excerpts:
What are the opportunities and challenges as a service provider?
The opportunity is that India being a major space-faring nation has all the technologies related to this sector. An Indian company can leverage these technologies by working with Isro. Antrix is coming out with programmes like outsourcing of small satellite technology and others in this regard.
Learning will be easier for the industry because of Isro. They can use it to get a small portion of the market. Since launch services are available in India, many companies in other parts of the world are interested to outsource the assembly and launching of satellites to India. It will be very cost effective and can help India become a satellite manufacturing hub. We are going forward with this vision to improve satellite business in India.
What is the gameplan?
Today, there is a gap between demand and launch due to capacity constraints of launchers.
The small rockets and PSLV technologies of Isro are in the process of being outsourced to the industry. They will have a major role in manufacturing it, which means we have a full loop available and only the payload part will be there, which we will address later. This will generally address the requirement of many companies around the world, putting up various applications and satellites in the space.
You have mentioned that your commercial launches are slightly lower. Where do you see it going forward?
The aim of developing small satellites is to capture a larger share of this business, which is expected to touch $18 billion in the next 10 years.
This is a huge market and if you are able to position a particular launch vehicle with appropriate pricing in the market, you can definitely capture a percentage share of it.
Even if you look at a 10 per cent of this market, it is a huge amount. With the kind of capacities that we are planning, probably we should be able to generate Rs 15-20 billion revenue from the small satellite launch services alone.
In addition, Isro's big launch vehicles, when in production mode, will also help us increase our revenue and market share.
Experts says medium launch vehicle will be a good bet for future if you want to be cost effective, instead of going for the small launcher. What is your take?
We are doing that market study. The small rockets are not that small as they will be able to take multiple satellites into orbit. We are also looking to launch microsatellites and cube sats with this particular launch vehicles. You will see that with this kind of launch vehicle we will be able to offer a very attractive proposition to the market.
Currently, you have a 7 per cent market share in launch services. Will the small rockets and PSLV marketing plan help you to increase this share?
The market size of launch services currently is about $5.5-6 billion globally, and it is supposed to grow at double digits in the near future. We have an immediate target of 10 per cent in the small satellite launch sector. We will lay out further plans after analysing the available opportunities.
The growth in terms of launch services market share is to be seen, but the 10 per cent market share in small launch vehicle service itself will take the seven per cent market share to more than 10 per cent. Our other programmes including the GSLV, GSLV Mark-III all looks good.
The production of GSLV Mark-III will decide the kind of market share we can capture, along with the pricing. We are seeing a very good potential in the market and that will help us in accelerating beyond that 10 per cent market.
What about the satellite services market?
It is upto Isro to put the space capacity in place. The roadmap looks very good and once the roadmap comes up we will look at the capacity that we can make use of for commercial utilisation.
What is your vision for Antrix in next five years?
In five years, we would like to double our revenue. Currently, it is Rs 20 billion. We have laid out plans to double the revenue and capture a larger share in the market. It is for that only that we are working on capacity building, transferring technology etc. We have to have the ecosystem so that we can take care of the demands which are being generated around the world. Capacity building is the priority now.