21:38 GMT +322 July 2018
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    India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C-39, carrying IRNSS-1H navigation satellite, lifts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India, August 31, 2017

    Funds Shortage Pulls the Brakes on India's Crucial Space Programs

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    At least four space programs flagged as "projects of national importance" are likely to suffer a huge setback with India's finance ministry being able to allocate only 65 percent of the Department of Space’s projected budget for the upcoming financial year.

    New Delhi (Sputnik): India's four strategically important space programs, including one of the world's most successful PSLV mission, are reportedly facing a severe fund shortage which may force the space scientists of the country to delay the project. The shortage is so severe that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) may not be able to "advance actions for procurement of materials and renewal of fabrication contracts with the partner industries," according to a report submitted by the Department of Space to a parliamentary panel last month.

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    The Department of Space said it had made a projection of $2.5 billion for the financial year 2018-19 — beginning April 18 — against which an amount of $1.6 (65%) billion has been allocated, because of which the department is  forced to reprioritize its projects, including the development of the semi-cryo stage — crucial for heavy lift rockets.

    "The impact of reduction (in budget allocation) is affected in PSLV continuation (Phase-6), GSLV Mk III continuation, GSAT follow-on missions, semi-cryo stage development, advanced launch vehicle development, etc.," the department said before the parliamentary panel on space.

    The development of the semi-cryo stage is considered crucial for the future heavy lift launch vehicles and reusable launch vehicles as well as human spaceflight missions. The semi-cryogenic engine uses a combination of Liquid Oxygen (LOX) and ISROSENE (propellant-grade kerosene), which are eco-friendly and cost-effective propellants. ISRO has set a target to complete the development of the engine by 2019 and the first flight test in 2021. But, given the present circumstances, it is unlikely to complete the project within the targeted schedule.

    Meanwhile, an additional 30 flights of the PSLV continuation program require $61 million, which is essential towards initiating advance actions for the procurement of materials and the renewal of fabrication contracts with the partner industries. "The program is envisaged to provide operational launch services for our satellite program," the department said. 

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    Similarly, a shortage of approximately $123 million for GSLV Mk III project — capable of launching four-ton satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit — will severely hit the start of the operational phase of the program, encompassing 10 flights of GSLV Mk III during 2018-19.

    The crisis is also likely to deal a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Digital India" program, as the reduction in budget allocation will slow down the GSAT-20 project, which provides satellite-based broadband services.

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    Tags:
    difficulties, actions, targets, progress, budget cuts, space capabilities, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), India
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