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India wants global rocket role

June 5th saw an Indian-built rocket launch the country’s heaviest-ever satellite into orbit. A powerful rocket placed India’s State Research Organisation (ISRO) GSLV Mk3 three-stage rocket and its GSAT-19 communications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit. The satellite weighed some 3136 kgs at launch.

India’s President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised ISRO for what they described as a historic achievement. The ISRO scientists said the rocket was capable of carrying 4 tonnes of cargo into geo-orbit, or up to 10 tonnes into Low Earth orbit.

A.S Kiran Kumar, chairman of ISRO said they were now hopeful of winning business from Western companies with suitable satellites for launch. “We can do it more economically,” said ISRO officials.

P.V. Venkitakrishnan, director of ISRO’s Propulsion Research Complex, quoted by trade mag Space Intel Report, said that a couple of years of further work and “fine tuning” would be needed, but then India would be winning commercial launch business because of its lower-costs.

India would also start saving hard foreign exchange cash currently being paid out to the likes of Arianespace which it uses to launch some of its satellite needs.  For example, Arianespace is launching GSAT-17 on June 28th.

Kumar told invited guests at the launch site that ISRO would also be working on satellites with further electric propulsion capabilities. The GSAT-19 launch June 5th carried an electric propulsion system. The satellite would take 2-3 weeks to reach its target destination.

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