New Delhi (Sputnik) — Months after the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) flagged serious concerns over the shortage of funds for projects of national importance, the Narendra Modi-led government decided to release over $1.6 billion to the space agency. This would enable the agency to launch 30 Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and 10 Geostationary Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark III rockets in the next four years.
The funds will enable the organization to implement advanced actions for the procurement of materials and renewal of fabrication contracts with other industries, which were on hold, as the Finance Ministry, in February this year, had allocated only 65 percent of the projected budget.
"With the Cabinet approval of Rs $652 million (INR 4338 crore) for 10 launches of 10 GSLV Mk III in the next four years, we will be able to launch heavier satellites weighing around 4 tons. This will be a big leap forward as we don't have to depend on foreign spaceports for launching heavier satellites," Jitendra Singh, a junior minister in the prime minister's office, said.
Sources told Sputnik that the ISRO had completed the developmental phase of the GSLV Mk III project, capable of launching satellites into orbit; and with the approval of the additional funding, it envisages starting the operational phase of the program, encompassing 10 GSLV Mk III flights during 2018-19.
"The fund was much needed for the program. The ISRO will spend around $120 million for this year to initiate the advanced actions," a source told Sputnik.
India's PSLVs have made it self-reliant in the launching of satellites for Earth observations, disaster management, navigation and space sciences.
"The PSLV Continuation Program — Phase 6 will meet the demand for the launch of satellites at a frequency up to eight launches per year, with maximal participation by the Indian industry. All the operational flights would be completed during the period 2019-2024," the Department of Space said in a statement.
The PSLV continuation program was initially sanctioned in 2008. Four phases of the program have been completed and the fifth phase is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2019-20. Thereafter, the sixth phase, which is yet to be approved, will cater to the launch of satellite missions between the third quarter of 2019-20 and the first quarter of 2023-24.
With the recent successful launch of PSLV-C41 on April 12, 2018, the PSLVs have completed three developmental and 43 operational flights of which the last forty one have been successful.