ISRO earning more foreign exchange by launching foreign Satellites

ISRO earning more foreign exchange by launching foreign Satellites

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has created a history with the successful launch of India’s Multi Wavelength Astronomical Observatory ASTROSAT and it has crossed the half century mark in launching foreign satellites.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has created a history with the successful launch of India’s Multi Wavelength Astronomical Observatory ASTROSAT and it has crossed the half century mark in launching foreign satellites.

PSLV-C30 has carried six foreign customer satellites, one each from Indonesia and Canada and four nano satellites of the US along with the ASTROSAT. All the 51 foreign satellites launched by ISRO, so far have been placed in orbit by India’s workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). During 1994-2015, the country’s PSLV launched a total of 84 satellites.

Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of ISRO, has managed to increase its revenue and net worth but its foreign exchange outgo had surpassed the foreign exchange earnings. According to the annual report, the foreign exchange earnings of the Antrix Corporation on account of exports, technical consultancy and other services stood at Rs. 17470.86 lakhs for 2013-14 while its foreign exchange outgo was Rs.52,783.52 lakhs. However, the Antrix Corporation’s income during 2013-14 was Rs.1608.72, up by 24% as compared to last year. The company PAT (profit after tax) for FY14 had clocked to Rs. 200.50 crore.
PSLV’s success
ISRO provides launch services to international customers through the PSLV. ISRO entered the commercial launch services market by launching KITSAT-3 of the Republic of Korea and DLR-TUBSAT of Germany along with IRS-P4 (OCEANSAT) onboard PSLV-C2 on May 26, 1999. So far, satellites from 20 countries namely Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK, and the US have been successfully launched by the PSLV during 15 of its launches.

Excluding the latest launch of six foreign satellites, India has earned about US$100 million by launching 45 foreign satellites and revenue from its commercial space missions is poised to grow with another 23 foreign satellites planned to be put into orbit between 2015 and 2017. A couple of months back, Union Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh in a written reply in the Lok Sabha provided this information.

India at present is making more and more interaction with the US and that the next PSLV rocket launch would be fully commercial.
India would be launching communication satellite GSAT-15 using Ariane rocket, a European heavy-lift launch vehicle, in November and two navigation satellites from Sriharikota. All the seven navigation satellites, part of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), would be in place in 2016.
Though PSLV was designed to launch Indian remote sensing satellites into polar sun synchronous orbit, the vehicle has repeatedly proved its reliability and versatility by successfully launching satellites into a variety of orbits including Polar Sun Synchronous, Geosynchronous Transfer and Low Earth orbits of small inclination, thereby repeatedly proving the strength of its design. Indian government has also sanctioned 15 smaller PSLV launchers worth Rs. 3,090 crore, which would be built during 2017-2020.

Antrix Corporation incorporated in 1992, a wholly-owned Government of India company under the administrative control of Department of Space (DoS), has already entered into a number of agreements for launching satellites for international customers onboard PSLV.

Antrix promotes and commercially exploits the products and services emanating from the Indian Space Programme. In addition to providing launch services for international customer satellites, Antrix provisions communication satellite transponders for broadcasting and telecommunication services, markets data from Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites, builds and markets satellites and satellite subsystems, and extends mission support services for satellite launches.
ISRO is also planning to launch six Singapore satellites with a total weight of around 660 kg. There will be one earth observation satellite weighing 410 kg, two micro-satellites of 130 kg and 80 kg weight respectively. The rest three are nano-satellites, cumulatively weighing 30 kg.

ISRO would also be launching five small satellites from the US before 2016 as a piggy-back luggage. ISRO had signed an agreement with its American clients to launch nine small satellites, of which four have already been launched as piggy-back luggage with ASTROSAT. However, taking a cue from the numerous success of ISRO, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi already announced the ambitious SAARC satellite project as a gift to India’s neighbours.
SAARC satellite project
The objective of this project is to develop a satellite for the SAARC region that facilitates a full range of services to India’s neighbouring countries in the areas of telecommunications and broadcasting applications like television, DTH, tele-education and disaster management. While the cost towards building and launching a satellite will be borne by the Government of India, the cost towards ground system is likely to be procured by respective SAARC countries. Sri Lanka has given its consent to the configuration.
It will be a two-tonne satellite with 12 transponders. Each SARRC country will be given one transponder configured to give the data they need. The satellite will be launched by the end of 2016.
ISRO is now concentrating on developing low cost access to space. The outlook for commercial launches is promising more for ISRO.
G.Rajendera Kumar
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