New Delhi: As it prepares for Moon and Mars missions, ISRO is planning to hive off production of communication satellites and polar satellite launch vehicles (PSLV) to the industry.If satellite and PSLV production can be spun off to private sector partners, then conceivably likewise so could launch operations. We could have our own Indian private sector launch companies, like United Launch Alliance, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences in the United States. I think that following the great success of SpaceX's COTS2 mission to the International Space Station, ISRO has now seen the handwriting on the wall, and realized that privatization could bring in new cost efficiencies and better leverage Indian skills in space technology to market them to the rest of the world. This will result in a faster evolution of Indian space capabilities, and faster gains in Indian access to space.
The space agency is keen to focus on unique science projects, develop remote sensing satellites and do more R&D instead of engaging in the repetitive exercise of building communication satellites and launch vehicles.
"We want to explore the possibility of 'producing' PSLV and communication satellites through the industry," K Radhakrishnan, Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) told PTI in an interview here.
The ISRO and its commercial arm Antrix Corporation have called for a meeting with the industry in September in Bangalore for a dialogue on the proposal and identify different work models.
"We want to find out what models could work out and evolve a plan. There is lot of repetition in building communication satellites," he said.
As a Japanese expert has pointed out in recent comments, one of the limitations for other countries in imitating the US move to privatize space launch services, is in having a domestic demand for space launch services strong enough to support a commercial space launch industry. Hopefully, India's fast-growing space sector will be enough to provide a sustainable market.