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India bags orders to launch 68 foreign satellites, 12 of them from US

India has clinched deals to launch as many as 68 overseas satellites, including a dozen from the US, a top official said on Tuesday. “We got fresh orders to launch 68 satellites from various countries,
India TV News Desk New Delhi August 31, 2016 8:24 IST
India TV News Desk

India has clinched deals to launch as many as 68 overseas satellites, including a dozen from the US, a top official said on Tuesday.

“We got fresh orders to launch 68 satellites from various countries, including 12 from PlanetiQ, a US-based weather forecasting satellite firm,” said Rakesh Sasibhushan, Chairman and Managing Director of Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of the Indian space agency.

Through Antrix, the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched 74 foreign satellites, including many from advanced countries like Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Israel and the US over the 15 years, using its most reliable workhorse - the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

“We also got an order to launch a heavier earth observation satellite from an overseas customer”, said Sasibhushan without naming the customer.

The new orders include launching smaller and nano-satellites with different payloads (instruments) for experiments, data generation, image-capturing and transmitting signals for communications, broadcasting, remote-sensing, earth observation and weather conditions.
PSLV-C34 set a record in July by launching 20 satellites, with a combined weight of 1,288 kg including ISRO’s 728 kg Cartosat-2 from its rocketport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, about 80 km north-east of Chennai.

“We plan to carry more satellites in a single launch at a time for optimal utilisation of the rocket space and other resources for achieving economies of scale,” hinted Sasibhushan.

Sasibhushan said ISRO had created a record with its 36th flight of PSLV-C34 in July this year when it successfully launched the 727.5 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite along with 19 co-passenger satellites from its spaceport in Sriharikota. It was the 35th consecutively successful mission of PSLV. 

“We estimate that about 2,500 satellites will be built in the next decade to meet the needs of countries and private customers for navigation, maritime, surveillance and other space-based applications,” Sasibhushan told reporters ahead of the fifth biennial Space Expo from Thursday in Bengaluru.

OneWeb, a global consortium of British multinational Virgin Group, Indian telecom major Bharti Enterprises and US-based chip maker Qualcomm, is planning to put a record 648 smaller satellites as a constellation to beam high-speed internet to local terminals.

ISRO also is bracing up for commercial launch of two-tonne and above satellites using its heavier rocket -- Geosynchrnous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) to place them in geo-stationary orbits, about 36,000 km from the earth.

ISRO also is bracing up for commercial launch of two-tonne and above satellites using its heavier rocket -- Geosynchrnous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) to place them in geo-stationary orbits, about 36,000 km from the earth.

The operational GSLV Mk-II rocket with an indigenous cryogenic upper stage is set for launch in September with a weather satellite onboard.

“We are looking for commercial operations of GSLV for which the indigenous cryogenic engines are getting ready to launch more satellites to the geo-orbits,” noted Sasibhushan.

With more nations and private customers keen on having their own satellites for various applications, India is pitching in the multi-billion dollar launch market due to shortage of rockets and launchers worldwide and owing its cost advantage.

ISRO, however, will face competition from global players such as BlueOrigin, Firefly Systems, Rocket Lab and SpaceX, which are bracing up to offer satellite launch services from 2017.

IANS