Ahead of India’s ambitious first manned space flight by 2022, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has launched its first space technology incubation centre in Agartala with the objective of developing cutting edge technologies needed by the space sector and creating intellectual properties.
Through this programme, the space organisation is looking to develop innovative indigenous technologies that could be used in its future projects and cut down the cost.
“You never know, may be one of the innovations developed at the Agartala centre could be flying the Gaganyaan,” said Isro Chairman, K Sivan.
He explained, for example, Isro uses conventional material for thermal protection but could be looking at an innovative material developed at the incubation centre, which could reduce mass and absorb more temperature, for the Gaganyaan, India’s first manned mission in space.
The first space incubation centre will be located at the National Institute of Technology campus in Agartala. The space agency also said it has identified five more locations – Jalandhar, Bhubaneswar, Nagpur, Trichy and Indore – to develop five more such incubation centres for a pan-India participation of academics, start-ups and industry in space research.
“We don’t want to go to places where space research is already going on. Isro does not want to concentrate on vertical but horizontal growth of space research. We want to identify untapped potential from across the country for space research,” said Sivan.
Former Isro chief A S Kiran Kumar said, India needs to more than double the number of satellites to meet broadcast and connectivity requirements. “For that to happen, the pace at which the work has to go on, should increase and that is where Isro is putting emphasis on.”
Each of this incubation centre will be set up at a cost of around Rs 20 million, and will help the start-ups develop prototypes of components required for space technology, in partnership with the industry. The Isro chief, however, clarified that no start-up has yet been identified for this initiative.
The prototypes developed by the start-ups, which could be anything ranging from electronics items, to valves, to rocket engine parts, would be tested by Isro, and if successful, will be absorbed by the space agency for its various missions.
The incubation programme was unveiled at the first edition of Spacetronics summit organised by the India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA). Anil Kumar Munswamy, the chairman of IESA, said the programme would give a push to make in India.
Apart from these incubation centres, the space agency will also be setting up regional academic centres for space at state-run universities in Jaipur, Patna, Kanyakumari, Varanasi, Kurukshetra and Guwahati to give a fillip to theory-based research work.
For the manned space mission scheduled for 2022, Sivan said, Isro would select three astronauts from a team of about 20-30. They would be trained by the space agency over a period of time.