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ISRO Makes More Space for Private Sector Participation in Satellite Making

© AP Photo / Aijaz RahiSatellite center of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in Bangalore, India. File photo
Satellite center of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in Bangalore, India. File photo - Sputnik International
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The Indian space agency aims to rope in and expand private sector participation to augment capabilities and tap the commercial market to drive innovation, entrepreneurship, and job creation, says expert.

Satellite center of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in Bangalore, India. File photo - Sputnik International
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New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is thinking of ways to enhance involvement of the private sector in its future satellite launches and include local firms in making integrated systems and sub-systems.

It is part of the larger efforts of the Indian agency to augment capabilities and tap the growing commercial market for space-based surveillance and communication. The move obviously comes in the backdrop of ISRO launching a record 104 satellites in a single rocket.

So far, ISRO's local vendors have been involved in a limited manner supplying components and systems for launches. But, in future, they will become part of the ISRO's process through the assembly and testing of integrated packages and modules, say local media sources.

For this, ISRO will ramp up the level of engagement up by transferring technology and hand-holding to shortlisted companies to take over manufacture of integral packages such as space-related hardware, including rocket engine and stages, propellant tanks, spacecraft structures, solar panels, thermal control systems and electronic packages required for satellites and launch vehicles.

Indian onlookers watch the launch of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C37) at Sriharikota on Febuary 15, 2017 - Sputnik International
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Then, a group of industries as a consortium will take up integrated packages to build a satellite, instead of the earlier set-up wherein individual vendors supplied individual parts. The development has been encouraging, says Dr Mayank N. Vahia of Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.

"While it's been going on for some time, ISRO expanding its engagement and awarding sub-contracts to Indian private sector players is an encouraging development. The most significant part is that catering to ISRO's demands will drive technological innovation, entrepreneurship, and lead to new avenues of job creation. All major countries like the US, Russia and others have gone a similar phase where public-private sector partnership creates an ecosystem driving entrepreneurship and job growth. Many of the technologies and experience in assembling will be used in other spheres and applied in product creation and differentiation," Vahia told Sputnik.

Although Vahia agrees the capabilities of Indian private sector in meeting the demands of the ISRO is "uneven" at present, it can be overcome as the level of engagement increases.

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