ISRO to outsource PSLV, SSLV to private firms

K Sivan, ISRO chairman

Bengaluru: ISRO and its commercial wing Antrix said they are willing to outsource manufacturing of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) so that the space agency could focus on the proposed human space programme.

The Indian Space Research Organisation held discussions a week ago with a consortium of industries regarding PSLV industrialisation with the objective of easing ISRO to focus on human space programme and research and development activities.

“Definitely, in my opinion, in the ISRO activity, industry is going to play a major role. If only the industry is taking the load, ISRO can work out on human space programme and research and development activities,” ISRO chairman K Sivan said.

He said the industry should help in manufacturing PSLV as well as SSLV, adding ISRO had already worked out a model.

With this model in a year, the PSLV was supposed to be produced by the industry. “That is our ambition and target,” Sivan said.

He was addressing a press conference here to announce the Bengaluru Space Expo (BSX), a three-day event starting from 6 September at the Bengaluru International Exhibition Centre (BIEC).

BSX-2018 will have 100 exhibitors, 56 speakers and 600 official delegates participating. There will be a separate pavilion for human space programme or Gaganyaan, which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his independence day address this year.

Modi had said an Indian astronaut would be sent to space by 2022. India will be the fourth country after the USA, Russia and China to send humans to space.

Sivan said informal discussions had been initiated with the Indian Air Force on selection of the crew. Once selected, it would take two-three years to train them.

He also said ISRO would need to take the help of a foreign country for advanced training of the crew. “We have not decided which country we will choose for training. Russia, Germany and USA have the facilities,” Sivan added.

On the PSLV outsourcing, the ISRO chief said industry partners Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Larsen and Tubro and Godrej were among those who took part in the discussions.

“It is possible to produce PSLV from this consortium. Already we have started working on that,” Sivan said.

Sivan said the industry would have a huge role to play in Gaganyaan and in building facilities for mission control centre and launch pad.

Antrix Managing Director Rakesh Sasibhushan said the small satellite service was a USD 18 billion market and they were looking at 50-60 launch vehicles per year.

“We are looking for a 50-60 vehicles per year, which is definitely going to make it commercially viable to produce… So the general capacity we are building, we are looking at a revenue of around Rs 1,500 crore to Rs 2,000 crore per year,” he said.

Atrix was discussing with various industry players in this connection, he added.