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ISRO chief expects greater role by private players in India’s space sector

Kiran Kumar, chairman of ISRO emphasised the growing role that private players are playing in India’s space sector.

science Updated: Sep 25, 2017 23:19 IST
Malavika Vyawahare
Malavika Vyawahare
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
ISRO chairman,Kiran Kumar,Vikram Sarabhai Memorial Lecture
File photo of countdown for the launch of India's eighth navigation satellite IRNSS-1H at Sriharikota last month.(PTI)

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is making a “natural progression” towards privatisation in the space sector, its chairman, Kiran Kumar said on Monday.

“It is a natural progression, if you see whether it is land, ocean, air and now space. Space is also a frontier,” Kumar said while delivering the Vikram Sarabhai Memorial Lecture at the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI) in Delhi. “Initially government agencies and governments have started the work, globally also private and commercial enterprises are getting into space adventure, tourism exploration and exploitation.”

Kumar explained that ISRO was already heavily reliant on the industry to manufacture its launch vehicles with almost 80% of the launch vehicle activities being outsourced to the industry.

Other space agencies, most notably NASA have already leveraged the private sector providing launch facilities for private companies to use their own launch vehicles and satellites. With greater demand for satellite launches it is economical to let private companies do the more mundane work of launching and maintaining satellites and using taxpayer’s money for research and development.

However, India is only taking baby steps in that direction. The ISRO joint venture with private players will involve a polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) being wholly produced by private players, but the satellite and launch station will be provided by ISRO.

Read more: ISRO’s private sector-built IRNSS 1H satellite launch fails, agency to analyse

A consortium of industry players will come together to partner with ISRO, official sources said. The space agency has held meetings with a group of companies including Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Godrej and L&T.

“In the coming years we won’t be surprised if there is a big spurt in use of space technology, including both hardware development and application,” Kumar said. There are already over 500 small, medium and large industries that manufacture hardware used in space technology.

There are also plans to develop an industrial complex at ISRO’s space launch station at Sriharikota to manufacture and assemble launch vehicles. There are two launch pads in Sriharikota and it would save time if the launch vehicles were assembled close to the launch pad.

First Published: Sep 25, 2017 23:19 IST