BENGALURU: About 70 engineers of a local industry are getting the hang of assembling and testing satellites inside Indian Space Research Organisation Satellite Centre (ISAC), Bengaluru, as the space agency has decided to provide India Inc the launch pad to reach for a slice of the multi-billion-dollar global satellite market.
To start with, these engineers will learn the ropes through a contract worth a couple of crores of rupees for rolling out two satellites, both stand-by for configuration of seven satellites which constitute the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) constellation scheduled to be dedicated to the nation shortly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. If these engineers are successful in manufacturing and testing both satellites within the next 18 months, ISRO is likely to place an order for a couple of communication satellites with the same team. The next step will be to bid for manufacture of satellites for the global market. "It's just the beginning. The effort is to make Indian industries proficient in space technology so that they can meet the demands of Indian and global markets. It will be a significant achievement if the industries capture even a fraction of the global satellite market," A.S. Kiran Kumar, Chairman, ISRO, told Deccan Chronicle.
Sources in ISRO said the IRNSS constellation will have a footprint of 1,500 km around the country, covering all sea routes, as well as support studies in remote sensing, plate tectonic movement, and those related to the ionosphere. In case one of these seven satellites is hit by a snag, the space agency ought to launch a replacement and cannot manage by leasing a transponder from other satellites. Therefore, the space agency planned two spare satellites, and picked Alpha Design Technologies, the lowest bidder, for on-the-job training as well as assembly, integration and testing of satellites. "A follow up order is likely for some communication satellites if the two IRNSS satellites are integrated and tested within a year-and-a half" sources said adding that eventually ISRO will pass on the responsibility of rolling out commercial satellites to the companies so that its engineers and scientists could focus on R&D projects and new technologies.
On its part, Alpha Design Technologies has decided to build a state-of-the-art satellite manufacturing, assembly, integration, testing and qualification facilities over the next two years in order to be prepared for follow-up orders from ISRO. "It is a significant step for us. As part of the contract, initially our teams will get ISRO supervision and later independently make complete satellites," says Colonel H.S. Shankar, Chairman & Managing Director, Alpha Design Technologies....