Aviation Week & Space Technology Sep 20 , 2010 , p. 78
ISRO reaches out to industry as its five-year budget climbs
Opportunities are increasing steadily for private industry as India’s 2012-17 space budget doubles to $4.7 billion.
The Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) heavy workload, particularly in launches, is prompting it to move aggressively to bring industry in as a risk-sharing partner.
Growth opportunities for Indian and foreign space manufacturers will abound, including for small and medium-size companies, K.R. Sridhara Murthi, Antrix Corp.’s managing director, said at India’s SpaceExpo here last month. Antrix Corp., which reported $200 million in revenues from products and services to international customers in its fiscal 2008, is ISRO’s commercial and marketing arm.
Industry is most active in launch vehicles, where it is responsible for 90% of ISRO’s costs, including 34% of fabrication, 57% of materials and 9% of propellants. Major commercial work is performed for interstage structures, composite systems and production of both solid and liquid propellants.
Now it is necessary to build industry expertise in systems engineering and subsystems-level integration, says ISRO Satellite Center Director T.K. Alex.
Since the start of its space program in the 1950s, India has completed 57 satellite missions with 31 launches. ISRO puts current demand at 8-10 satellite launches annually.
Meanwhile, it is preparing for two launches in 2011: Aditya, to study the solar corona; and Astrosat, a multi-wavelength astronomy mission. In 2013 comes the launch of Chandrayaan-2 as both a lunar orbiter and a rover. Plus, India continues to pursue its human spaceflight program.
India’s space program has a major presence worldwide, with 70% of its procurement from home-grown sources, notes analyst Tom Captain of Deloitte Touche.
He points out that India is free to export the big advances it has made in imagery and electro-optical radars.
ISRO is outsourcing work to more than 500 small, medium-size and large companies, says ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan. Industry should emphasize high technology and be prepared to become risk-bearing partners, he notes.
ISRO’s growing reliance on outsourcing is nurturing new players, according to SpaceExpo participants. One such company, Mumbai-based Larsen & Toubro, began by working on launch vehicles and now makes rocket casings. It has built a facility to manufacture composites and honeycomb deck panels. It also is installing radar systems at Sriharikota, ISRO’s space port, which have a 2,500-mi. tracking range.
Another ISRO supplier, Godrej Precision Systems, began in the mid-1980s by making satellite components but has moved on to the subsystem level, including for liquid propulsion launch vehicles.
And Astra Microwave Products provides hardware components to ISRO.
ISRO expects to use private industry to build its third launch pad at Sriharikota, people familiar with the program say.
Moreover, Russia’s Navigation Information Systems (NIS) Glonass, formed last year to function as federal network operator, has signed a memorandum with Hyderabad-based HBL Power Systems to market and manufacture NIS Glonass technologies in India.
Dual-band receivers for the GPS/Glonass system are regarded as one of India’s best manufacturing opportunities. NIS Glonass expects to sign agreements with two more companies by year-end, a company official says.
HBL, best known in India for batteries and standby power systems for railways, telecom and defense, expects its Intelligent Transport System to be especially useful for India’s police and rail systems through the GPS/Glonass network. The satellite-tracking and positioning system is aimed at road traffic controls and optimizing routes, particularly for emergency response vehicles.
Chairman and Managing Director Aluru Jagadish sees markets in the next 8-10 years for expanded satellite-tracking systems in 100 Indian cities.
Pune, Kolkata and Chennai have ongoing projects; Mysore and Surat are evaluating systems; and New Delhi recently floated a bid for a satellite-based traffic management system for police.
India’s Ambitious Spaceflight Plans
Plans Missions Outlay
10th Plan 2002-07 13 Satellite Missions (4 EO + 8 Satcom + 1 Other) 126,150 billion rupees ($2.7 billion)
7 LV Missions (4 PSLV + 3 GSLV)
11th Plan 2007-12 24 Satellite Missions (10 EO + 9 Satcom + 5 Sp Sp) 220,000 billion rupees ($4.7 billion)
18 LV Missions (14 PSLV + 3 GSLV)
12th Plan 2012-17 The number of missions and outlay is expected to be more than double the 11th Plan TBD
Major initiatives — Human Spaceflight Program, GSLV Mk III, Navigation, Advanced Planetary missions