India can take place in global commercial satellite launch market: ISRO chairman

India can take place in global commercial satellite launch market: ISRO chairman

Chenai: With a shortage of rockets to launch satellites, India, with its LVM3 or GSLV Mk3 rocket, now has a place in the global commercial satellite launch market, said S. Somanath, Secretary of the Department of Space and President of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

He also said that India plans to increase production of the LVM3 rocket.

“There is a shortage of commercial satellite launchers to orbit multiple satellites to form a constellation. Russian rockets are not considered now. Additionally, Arianespace’s Ariane 6 rocket has been delayed. The commercial potential of Chinese rockets is not accepted by the West. Hence, India now has a place,” Somanath told IANS.

It was the IANS that first said India had an opportunity in the global commercial satellite launch market soon after US and European economic sanctions against Russia for its military action .

“All those countries feeling the pinch due to the lack of Russian rockets for satellite launches could consider alternatives. While the bulk of satellite launch contracts will be taken by the United States and Europe, there will be others who may consider other options India’s neutrality has created a new market segment,” Chaitanya Giri, founder of DAWON Advisory & Intelligence, told IANS.

Space sector exports had told IANS that to take advantage of the opportunities, India should ramp up its satellite launch capabilities and announce Productivity Incentive Programs (PLIs) for the aerospace sector.

“A plan is being drawn up to increase the production of LVM3 to four or five per year after one to two years. And investment is needed for this. NewSpace India Ltd (NAIL business arm of ISRO) will consider how to proceed said Somanath.

Starting in 1999, ISRO has put 345 small foreign satellites into orbit to date using its rocket called Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

For the first time, ISRO introduces its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-MkIII (GSLV-MkIII) heavy rocket to the global commercial launch market by renaming it LVM3.

Normally, the GSLV rocket is used to launch India’s geostationary communication satellites. And hence, it was named Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). The GSLV MkIII refers to the third generation rocket.

As the rocket that will fly Sunday morning will be in orbit around OneWeb satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), ISRO has renamed GSLV MkIII to LVM3 M2 (Launch Vehicle MkIII).

On Sunday at 00:07, the LVM3 will fly with 36 small satellites from Network Access Associated Ltd (OneWeb) in LEO.

OneWeb is a joint venture between India Bharti Global and the UK government.

The satellite company plans to have a constellation of around 650 satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) to offer communication services.

The LVM3 M2 is a three-stage rocket with the first stage powered by liquid fuel, the two belt-driven motors powered by solid fuel, the second by liquid fuel, and the third is the cryogenic engine.

ISRO’s heavy rocket has a payload capacity of 10 tons to LEO and four tons to Geographic Transfer Orbit (GTO).

The total launch mass of the OneWeb satellites will be 5,796 kg, ISRO said.

“We have signed a contract for another launch of 36 OneWeb satellites. Other launches may come depending on our performance,” Somanath remarked.

The Indian space agency‘s other PSLV rocket has a payload capacity of 3.2 tons to 3.8 tons in LEO orbit depending on the variant.

With LVM3, ISRO can offer two rockets for the global commercial launch market.

Asked about the small satellite market, Somanath said: “There are too many predictions based on different approaches. Mainly through the LEO communication network and small satellite imagery services. However, it will be a few thousand per year.

He said that NSIL offers the PSLV and will also adopt the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) to tap into this market in the coming years.

The SSLV has a load capacity of 500 kg at LEO.

The ISRO chairman said the GSLV rocket will be launched up to twice a year to meet the NavIC (Indian Navigation Satellite System) and other scheduled missions.

“The GSLV rocket will be for internal (domestic) demand. Only PSLV and LVM3 are currently in commercial service,” Somanath said.

“We need to prepare industries to produce bulk PSLV, SSLV and LVM3 themselves. Otherwise, the large-scale launch service is difficult. It can also be modulated by changing geopolitical conditions,” Somanath noted.

The first step towards the procurement of PSLV rockets by NSIL has been taken with the award of a Rs.860 crore contract to manufacture five rockets to the HAL-L&T consortium.

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