India opens up ISRO to private companies

India’s State Research Organisation (ISRO) which takes care of the country’s satellite and rocket launch activity, says it will soon launch satellites and even privately-built rockets and is open to more commercial activity from the private sector.

ISRO on November 20th issued a tender document to private companies inviting participation for the Assembly, Integration and Testing of satellites, at a rate of 30-35 over a 3-year period.

ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar says ISRO is working to put a mechanism in place for private enterprises to tap into ISRO expertise and this includes a joint-venture between ISRO and a consortium of companies aimed to fill a gap in India’s overall satellite and launch production.

ISRO’s satellite centre Director, Dr M Annadurai, who addressed the first international seminar on Indian space programme organised by ISRO and the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry confirmed the move.

The plans – yet to be approved by government – could bring up to 30 private firms into the j-v consortium. The scheme is likely to include ISRO’s commercial arm, Antrix Corp.  ISRO hopes to take its current eight-ten launches a year to around 18-20.  Today there are 40 satellites in orbit, including environmental and scientific satellites, but India’s requirement is “much much higher”, Kumar said.

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