Friday, August 27, 2010

Indian Space Agency Reaches Out to Industry

August 27, 2010

BENGALURU, INDIA — The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is calling upon industry to participate aggressively in its future programs at the three-day Bengaluru Space Expo 2010.

Ninety percent of launch vehicle systems have been built by industry, including materials, fabrication and assembly, says T.K. Alex, director of the ISRO Satellite Center. “We [now] need to build industry to the level of engineering systems to subsystems-level integration,” Alex says.

On commercialization, K. Radhakrishnan, ISRO chairman,says the industry should look at high technology sectors, in line with ISRO’s growing demand for the latest
know-how. “The industry will have to become a risk-bearing partner.”

Over 500 companies from small, medium and large sectors receive outsourced work from ISRO.

Investment in research and development needs a boost and collaboration with public funded research institutions could be the key, says Vikram Kirloskar of the Kirloskar Group.

“ISRO needs to spend time and money on its partners,”another official says. “Its requirements are too need-based.”

“We do supervision, hand-holding and help vendors get experience,” says S. Somnath, project director for the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk-III, reacting to a query that vendor evaluations and training were not done enough.
Sensitive items

“There are sensitive items like inertial navigation and control actuation systems that need expertise and will require investment from the industry,” Somnath adds.
ISRO is known to have nurtured new players in the past that are now dedicated suppliers.

Sanctions remain on some of ISRO’s facilities as the India-U.S. space cooperation pact remains unsigned. But this may change with U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit in November, says P.R. Veeraraghavan, director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center.
Though this has proven to be “a blessing in disguise,” due to the fact that India’s space program was forced to rely more on indigenous sources, things will still move faster once agreements are signed, Veeraraghavan says.
- Neelam Mathews

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