ISRO planning indigenous launches

By agencies   |   Friday, 23 December 2005, 08:00 Hrs
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BANGALORE: The Indian Space Research Organization expects its Insat 4A, now a day old, to be its penultimate satellite that will be flown from outside the country.

The indigenous GSLV rocket having qualified to fly the 2 ton class Insat satellites, ISRO is phasing out costly procured launches, most of which have been on the European Ariane launcher.

As such, Insat 4B, which is slated for around June 2006 will be the last one to be launched from abroad, ISRO spokesman, S. Krishnamurthy said.

Thursday's launch of the 3080-kg 4A aboard old reliable Ariane-5 rocket has cost ISRO $50 million besides insurance. It built the satellite in Bangalore. A flight aboard the GSLV would almost halve ISRO's launch burden.

ISRO has been using Ariane rockets almost continuously since the 1981 free ride for its APPLE experiment. This was the 12th launch on a European launcher. ISRO has also used U.S. rockets (Ford Aerospace's Delta and the space shuttle Challenger) for the early Insats and six Russian launchers for the remote sensing satellites.

For the smaller remote sensing satellites that fly at lower altitudes, it has entirely done away with procured launches since 1995. The GSLV flight can now launch an operational satellite. The space agency is making it fully indigenous with a homemade cryogenic engine. This launcher, called GSLV Mk2, is slated to fly by 2006-end. The GLSV-Mk3 for heavy, 4-tonne lifts is expected to be ready by 2008.

The further eight GSLV programs (GSLV F4 to F 11) recently got a boost with the Center’s clearance. for a five-year spend of over $681 million.

Insat’s have become revenue churners for ISRO in the past couple of years from the lease of transponders to private broadcasters and VSAT users.

The launch vehicle service is yet to take off, except for four small satellites that the polar rocket PSLV has launched.

Parallel with 4B, the satellite center here is putting together 4C and Cartosat-2.

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