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ISRO goes satellite shopping

The space centre has forged partnerships with France-based 'EADS Astrium' and European space consortium 'Arianespace'.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2006 16:08 IST

Indian Space Research Organisation has forged partnerships with France-based 'EADS Astrium' and European space consortium 'Arianespace'.

The partnerships will help India become a cost-effective destination for satellite-building and commercial launch services.

ISRO has inked a pact with EADS Astrium to jointly address the commercial market for communication satellites in the mass range of two to three tonnes, envisaging optimising Bangalore-based space agency's INSAT platform along with communication payloads of the Europe's leading satellite system specialist.

ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair said Arianespace has also agreed in principle to pass on to the Indian space agency two to 2.5 tonne class satellites for launch from the Indian soil.

According to top ISRO officials, costs of building satellites and launch services are lower by 20 to 30 per cent in India.

On agreement with EADS Astrium, Nair said: "Cooperation is fructifying. We already had a series of discussions with them. We have already identified what are the subsystems that can be done here... How the integration can be done... How the instruments can be brought here from them."

"We (ISRO and EADS Astrium) are trying to make some joint bids", he said. "If that fructifies, we may get one or two launches of the two to three tonne class built here for EADS."

Nair said ISRO has signed an MoU with Arianespace by which the European space consortium has agreed in principle to "deflect" some of the small launches to India's GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle).

"Their (Arianespace's) capacity is now eight to 10 tonnes. So, they can carry four to five tonne class as two passengers. But if there is a demand for 2-2.5 tonnes, they will always contact us and we can provide launch services.

"We hope that at least one or two launches within the next few years will come to us," the ISRO Chairman said.

Nair also said besides INSAT-4B, Arianespace is likely to launch one more Indian satellite outside the INSAT-4 series.

"(In addition to INSAT-4B) perhaps one more launch we may have with Arianespace...Demand for high-powered transponders is going up. So, we may bring one more satellite of this class which will have a minimum of 24 transponders... Even 30," he said.

"But after that, even the heavy satellites we will be able to launch with our own GSLV Mark-III, and two tonne class can go with GSLV Mark-II."

He said ISRO won the contract to launch Italian satellite Agile on board PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle), slated later this year, amidst international competition.

"For GSLV (which can launch two tonne class satellites now) also we have given some proposals (bids), but somehow, some other launch service providers (European and American) are cutting the costs very low. So, that way, some sort of unfair competition is there.

"There again, political factors come in. In spite of this, we are trying to keep the pressures on," he added.

First Published: Jan 10, 2006 16:08 IST