ISRO enters global satellite, launch vehicle market

Thursday, 27 September 2007, 07:00 Hrs
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Hyderabad: Having demonstrated its prowess in building and launching satellites for civil and commercial applications, India's space agency ISRO is wooing potential customers worldwide to grab a chunk of the multibillion dollar global space market.

"With the successful launch of Insat-4CR early this month (Sep 2) and its subsequent deployment in the geo-stationary orbit, we have proven that we have the wherewithal to undertake such missions cost-effectively and safely," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairperson G. Madhavan Nair said.

Now that the Indian space agency has launched six foreign satellites in polar orbit over the last four-five years and has tied up with Astrium of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space company (EADS) to assemble three satellites, its top officials are hard-selling its products and services at the space expo, being held as part of the 58th International Aeronautical Congress (IAC 2007) here.

"We have acquired self-reliance in building launch vehicles for polar and geo-stationary orbits and spacecraft for various applications in both orbits at an affordable cost," Nair told IANS.

"Indian enterprises have also come of age to design and build sub-systems, critical components and a host of other requirements," Nair said on the sidelines of the business conclave at the five-day expo in which around 150 global firms are taking part and about 1,500 delegates from over 50 countries are participating.

In the $190 billion global space market, launch vehicles account for two-thirds of the total cost, with the remaining going into building satellites and ground support for monitoring and maintaining them.

"As the launch cost is the major component of any mission, we have the advantage of offering a better price than any of our competitors, whose costs are about 70-80 percent more than ours.

"Similarly, greater indigenisation and skilled talent pool enable us to build or assemble low-cost satellites for civil or commercial applications," Nair asserted.

ISRO has already launched satellites for three European nations - Germany, Belgium and Italy - and two Asian countries, South Korea and Malaysia.

"We are now building two satellites (W2M and HILAS) for the France-based Eutelsat Communications and one for the British-baked Avanti under contract from Astrium. The spacecraft will be delivered next year after integrating and testing them," Nair pointed out.

The W2M will have 26-32 transponders in Ku-band with a 15-year lifespan to provide a wide range of services spanning television broadcasting to data networks and broadband across Europe, North Africa and Middle East.

The HILAS (Human Integration into the Lifecycle of Aviation Systems) is a European Commission-funded international research initiative with 40 partners from the global aviation industry and academia.

The project will develop a model of good practices for the integration of human factors across the lifecycle of aviation systems, including flight operations environment, evaluation of new flight deck technologies and monitoring of maintenance operations.

To reduce launch cycles and increase payloads, ISRO is bracing its launch facility at Sriharikota, about 100 km from Chennai, off the Andhra Pradesh coast and the satellite production centre in Bangalore.

"We plan to schedule three-four PSLV (polar satellite launch vehicle) launches and two GSLV (geo-satellite launch vehicle) launches from 2009-10.

"To reduce the launch costs further and indigenise the upper cryogenic stage, we are in the final stages of building the Indian version of the Russian engine for GSLV Mark III to carry four-tonne and above satellites," Nair affirmed.

ISRO's commercial arm Antrix Corporation will be strengthened to market the capabilities and offer a complete reliable proposal for users.

"India will emerge as a global player in the launch vehicle and satellites' market on its own strength, with the private industry playing an increasing role in the coming years," Nair averred.

Currently, about 60 percent of the space budget goes to the industry for supplying sub-systems, components and modules; about 30 percent to other state-owned undertakings; and the balance (10 percent) to foreign firms for importing critical electronic accessories and sensors.

If the industry builds on its present capabilities, ISRO is ready to transfer its know-how for entrusting, integration, assembling and testing of spacecraft as well as launch vehicles.

"On the applications front, we have demonstrated through Insat series and remote-sensing satellites (IRS) our capabilities to provide low-cost solutions to developing countries in the areas of education (Edusat), health (telemedicine), meteorological services (Kalpana-1) and rural connectivity (village resource centres)," Nair added.

ISRO will also explore joint ventures and partnerships with global players for promoting and marketing its products and services at competitive rates.
Source: IANS
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