ISRO to double annual satellite launch

NEW DELHI: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to increase its satellite capacity by upping launches from next year to keep pace with demands from users and is also releasing request for proposals (RFP) for 30 satellites, top Indian government officials said. Five of these will be communication satellites catering to the TV and radio industry.

According to ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar, who was speaking at a conference on the space industry eco-system here on Monday, the organisation would be doubling its launch frequency from 10 to approximately 20 in a year as the “space industry in India is significantly short of capacity” and behind “intended goals”.

One of the aims was to increase transponder capacity to transmit more TV channels. Currently, 15 communication satellites are in orbit.

He emphasised that with the increasing volumes, which are on offer by ISRO and other space agencies, it is an ideal opportunity for the industry to be a part of the global supply chain.

“The world of space is rapidly changing with technological advancements and disruptive innovation. The key to success is to significantly reduce the cost of access to space in what will prove to be an immense opportunity for the Indian and global industries,” Kumar said.

Pointing out that ISRO presently has 42 operational satellites and has set new benchmarks in lunar and Mars explorations, he said that in future the challenge will be to decrease the cost of access to space for optimal advantage of common people. Kumar added that India has demonstrated to the entire world its capabilities in satellite launch with comparative cost advantage compared to other foreign space agencies.

While Kumar dwelt on efforts to augment satellite capacity, his colleague and ISRO Satellite Centre director Dr Annadurai announced, “RFP for 30 satellites will be released today (Monday)”, laying stress on the role of space technology in achieving sustainable development goals, disaster management and improving important governance objectives.

Apart from other services, satellites are used by TV channels and telecoms service providers to beam their services to and fro from India. Though C-band satellite capacity is not so regulated, the KU-band capacity procurement on non-Indian satellites is restrictive. Indian direct to home operators at times have found it difficult to expand channel capacity in the absence of adequate KU-band transponders on Indian birds and long procedural delays encountered in acquiring capacity on foreign satellites - a scenario that has eased in recent times.

ISRO has come a long way from setting up its first independent communication satellite of foreign origin in 1981 to becoming indigenous today.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) president and Glavkosmos (Russia) deputy director-general also gave special addresses during the inaugural session reiterating their commitment to work with India in the space sector.

The event, organised by FICCI, is being attended by key players and representatives from ISRO, the Indian space industry, Commerce Ministry’s DIPP, Ministry of External Affairs, Department of Space and international agencies from Japan, Russia, Singapore, USA, Germany, France and Thailand.

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