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India gives serious competition to US, Russia, EU, Japan & China by earning USD 100 million in commercial space missions

July,22,2015: India has earned about USD 100 million launching 45 foreign satellites till date and revenue from its commercial space missions is poised to grow with another 28 foreign satellites planned to be put into orbit between 2015 and 2017.

ISRO Launch
ISRO Launch

This information was given by Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday while providing details of revenue earned by Antrix — the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) — from launch of foreign satellites.

Mr. Singh said Antrix has signed agreements for launching 28 satellites of six countries — Algeria, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Singapore and the US during 2015-17.

Until now, 45 satellites from 19 countries have been launched by the ISRO and the income generated through this amounts to around 17 million USD and 78.5 million Euros(85 million USD), he said.

Singh also informed that the government has sanctioned 15 smaller PSLV launchers worth Rs 3,090 crore which would be built during 2017-2020.

In a response to another question, Singh elaborated on the initiation of chalking out a roadmap for the country’s space programmes in addressing short-term and long-term areas.

On other issues, Singh said the expenditure on the ground system of the proposed SAARC satellite project will be borne by the regional bloc countries while India will bear the expenses on its building and launching.

“While the cost towards building and launching a satellite will be met by the government of India, the cost towards ground system is expected to be sourced by respective SAARC countries,” Mr. Singh said in his reply.

“The objective of this project is to develop a satellite for the SAARC region that enables a full range of services to all our neighbours in the areas of telecommunications and broadcasting applications like television, DTH, tele-education and disaster management,” he added.

Incidentally, India has maintained that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious SAARC satellite project was a “gift” by the country to its neighbours.

The successful launch of the PSLV-C28/DMC3 on July 10, 2015 takes the number of satellites launched by India for foreign clients to 45. The July 10 launch was the 30th flight of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV); of these, 29 have been successful. This speaks volumes about the quality of this vehicle, which is essentially used for launching satellites that weigh less than two tonnes into Low Earth Orbit (between 300 and 800 km above the earth’s surface).

On its 30th flight, the PSLV placed five satellites in orbit for Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), United Kingdom. The overall lift of mass of the mission was 1440 kg, the heaviest commercial mission ever undertaken by Antrix Corporation Limited, the commercial arm of ISRO which was established in 1992. Previously, in June 2014, the PSLV-C23 mission had carried satellites weighing 765 kg for foreign clients. All these satellites are placed in a Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO, approximately 600 km above the earth’s surface). In the past, ISRO has launched much heavier payloads into SSO. For example, in April 2012, PSLV C-19 placed in orbit India’s radar satellite RISAT-1, which weighed 1858 kg.

From the commercial point of view, every kilogramme of weight adds to the cost of the launch, with a 1440 kg payload earning higher revenue than a 765 kg payload. The first satellite ever launched by the PSLV for a foreign client was for Germany in 1999. The German satellite weighed 45 kg. Now, Antrix has also bagged a contract to launch a 800 kg German satellite called Environmental Mapping and Analysis Program (EnMAP).

Along with satellite launching services, Antrix also provides various other services on commercial terms such as satellite building, transponders for broadcasting and telecommunication purposes, remote sensing data and other support services. Among these, providing launching services is unique given that only ten countries in the world have rocket launching capabilities.

Of these countries, the US, Russia, EU, Japan, China and India make their services available commercially. (Other countries like North and South Korea, Iran, etc. have only rudimentary launching capabilities). Private companies are also trying to make inroads into the satellite launch business. Presently, the US-based Space X is providing such services.

The satellite launch business has two basic categories: launching satellites into LEO, with such satellites usually belonging to less than two tonnes weight category; and, launching three to five tonne satellites, normally designed for communications purposes, into the Geostationary Orbit (36,000 km above the earth’s surface).

All you should know about Antrix-

Antrix Corporation Limited (ACL), incorporated on 28 September 1992 (under the Companies Act, 1956) is a wholly owned Government of India Company, under the administrative control of Department of Space (DOS). ACL is the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO); and, responsible for promotion and commercial exploitation of the products and services emanating from the Indian Space Programme.In the year 2008, the Company was awarded 'MINIRATNA' status.

The major areas of business activities of ACL, currently, are:

ISRO Launch Vehicles
ISRO Launch Vehicles

  1. Provisioning of communication satellite transponders to Indian users;
  2. Providing satellite launch services to international customers;
  3. Marketing of data from Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites to international customers;
  4. Building and marketing of satellites and satellite sub-systems for international customers;
  5. Building of satellites and establishing associated ground infrastructure for Indian users;
  6. Mission support services for foreign satellites;

ISRO's vision statement –

''Our vision is to harness space technology for national development, while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration.''

Mission Statement of ISRO –

  1. Design and development of launch vehicles and related technologies for providing access to space.
  2. Design and development of satellites and related technologies for earth observation, communication, navigation, meteorology and space science.
  3. Indian National Satellite (INSAT) programme for meeting telecommunication, television broadcasting and developmental applications.
  4. Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS) programme for management of natural resources and monitoring of environment using space based imagery.
  5. Space based Applications for Societal development and Disaster Management Support.
  6. Research and Development in space science and planetary exploration. 

Objectives at ISRO –

PSLV C28, carrying five satellites, being launched from Sriharikotta on July 10, 2015
PSLV C28, carrying five satellites, being launched from Sriharikotta on July 10, 2015

  1. Operational flights of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)
  2. Developmental flight of Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV- Mk II)
  3. Development of heavy lift Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-Mk III)
  4. Development of semi-cryogenic technology for future launch vehicles.
  5. Design, Development and Realization of Communication Satellites
  6. Design, Development and Realization of Earth Observation Satellites
  7. Development of Navigation Satellite Systems
  8. Development of Space Science and Planetary Exploration Satellite Systems
  9. Earth Observation Applications
  10. Space based systems for Societal Applications
  11. Advanced Technologies and newer initiatives
  12. Training, Capacity building and Education
  13. Promotion of Space technology
  14. Infrastructure, Facility Development & Mission Operations Support
  15. International Cooperation

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