India’s workhorse rocket, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), which has completed 20 consecutively successful launches under the eagle eye of ISRO, is one such technology that the agency is hoping to hive off to private players. Today, about 80% of the vehicle is put together with parts supplied by the private industry. If K Radhakrishnan, the current chairman of ISRO and a manager trained at the Indian Institute of Management at Bangalore has his way, then the entire vehicle itself could well be made and launched by private players.
Mr Radhakrishnan says, “The PSLV is a reliable vehicle…there are requirements of putting Indian satellites, and in the global market, the PSLV too has a niche. Capability is there, demand is there, now how to enhance the capacity to realize more PSLVs? As of now more than 400 industrial firms are working for realizing various elements of PSLV. Can we get the Indian space industry to realize the [entire] PSLV vehicle itself?”
Each PSLV vehicle costs the tax payer about Rs. 120 crores, and today ISRO can, at best, fabricate four PSLV rockets per year. In the next two-three years, almost a dozen launches of PSLV are already slated and ISRO will be stretched to meet these requirements.
ISRO is also thinking of hiving off the money-spinning communication satellite business. Adding further, Mr Radhakrishnan said, “On communications satellites, there is a large demand for transponders today. So, if the proven platforms of communications satellites…if they could be replicated with the help of the industry. With industry taking a major role, that is another way of meeting the national demands at the earliest possible.”
As commercialization plans advance, ISRO also will expand its launch facilities to meet an expected increase in demand.
“We are planning to have a third launchpad at Sriharikota to cater to our future missions,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K Radhakrishnan said.
He said the new launchpad would help Isro augment the frequency of missions, which was necessary to meet its ambitious targets.
“We plan to launch 24 missions over the next 24 months, which include our communication satellites and some foreign payloads,” he said, adding that over a five year period, the space agency has plans to launch 60 missions.
The new pad could also be used for launching Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk-III) carrying heavier satellites as also by the reusable launch vehicle, India’s own version of a space shuttle.
Meanwhile, ISRO officials are preparing for the space agency’s 100th mission on Sept. 9, an event that will be witnessed in person by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The PSLV rocket launch the French remote sensing satellite, SPOT-6, and a Japanese micro-satellite.
According to ISRO, India has built 62 satellites and 37 rockets starting from its first satellite Aryabhatta and rocket satellite launch vehicle (SLV). The total number of space missions till date is 99.
“ISRO counts each of its rocket flights as a single mission. If our satellite is launched by a foreign rocket then it is counted as single mission. Whereas if an Indian rocket (PSLV) launches multiple satellites built and owned by Isro then each satellite is counted individually as a mission,” said an Isro official.
India’s rocket launch business is open to industry: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/india-s-rocket-launch-business-is-open-to-industry-237961
Isro to build third launchpad at Sriharikota: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-07-01/india/32494121_1_sriharikota-gslv-mk-iii-heavier-satellites
Isro to score 100 with a cooperative mission September 9: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-08-27/india/33423658_1_antrix-and-astrium-astrium-sas-isro-officials