Monday, November 30, 2009

ISRO to launch 8 foreign satellites

India’s space agency has in its pipeline eight foreign satellites for launch and is scouting to acquire such spacecraft from abroad to expand capacity in the field of communication transponder back home.

“Today, we have eight (foreign) satellites to be launched. This will be launched over the next two-three years”, Managing Director of Antrix Corporation, marketing arm of Bangalore headquartered Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), K R Sridhara Murthi, told PTI.

These are a mix of small and bigger satellites, he said but declined to elaborate, noting that the space agency is yet to formally ink some of these contracts.

But one foreign satellite that is being readied for launch is a 150-kg one from Algeria, which is slated to be launched by home-grown Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle as a piggyback payload likely in April next year.

Mr. Sridhara Murthi said ISRO is looking for opportunities to acquire foreign satellites. In fact, it, along with its global partners, recently unsuccessfully bid to acquire a satellite, which was put up for auctioning by a company facing bankruptcy, in the United States.

Intelsat won the bid with a price of $210 million. ISRO was ready to shell out $100 million for part of the capacity that it intended to use, Mr. Sridhara Murthi said. ISRO’s bold move is a sign of its growing confidence, he said.

ISRO has also started integrating Hylas spacecraft, a contract it jointly bagged with EADS—Astrium, and it would be delivered to the customer, UK—based Avanti Screenmedia, in June.

Under the contract, EADS—Astrium is the prime contractor in charge of overall programme management and would build the communications payload, while Antrix/ISRO would build the satellite with a lift—off mass of around 2.5 tonnes and power of 3.2 KW.

“This year we are producing a very sophisticated high definition television satellite (Hylas) for the first time in the world”, he said.

ISRO is looking to further scale up the participation of industries in space projects and even mulling to outsource some research and development tasks to them.

“Nearly 400 industries take part in space programme today”, he said, noting for example that industries now undertake 70 per cent of work on developing launch vehicles (rockets).

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