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India commits to building reusable rocket

September 7, 2022

India’s Space Research Organisation (ISRO) says it has plans to design and build a new reusable rocket for the global market that would significantly cut the cost of launching satellites.

“All of us want launches to be much cheaper than what we do today,” Chairman of ISRO Sreedhara Somanath said, speaking at the Bengaluru Space Expo 2022.

He said that at present it takes about $10,000 to $15,000 to put a one-kg payload into orbit.

“We have to bring it down to $5,000 or even $1,000 per kg. Only way to do that is to make the rocket reusable. Today in India we don’t have reusable technology yet in launch vehicles (rockets),” Somanath said. “The idea is that the next rocket that we are going to build after GSLV Mk III should be a reusable rocket.”

Somanath added that ISRO plans to work with the space industry, start-ups, and NewSpace India – the agency’s commercial arm, to reach the goal.

ISRO rivals include SpaceX which has mastered reusability, especially with its versatile Falcon 9 rocket; Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit project makes total use of his converted Boeing 747 to keep costs down; Arianespace is progressing slowly with its Ariane 6 reusable rocket versions. Meanwhile there are dozens of ultra-low cost rocket developments under way which while not being direct rivals to the heavyweight launch operators, hope to carve their own niches out of the overall demand.

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