India opens up ISRO to private companies

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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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