NewSpace India Ltd, the new public sector space business company, launched a formal search for industry consortia which can regularly manufacture and deliver entire PSLV satellite launch vehicles for its parent, the Indian Space Research Organisation. It will initially outsource five PSLVs — Indian rockets that can lift light payloads to ‘low earth orbits’ some 600 km in space. NSIL has called a pre-bid meeting of potential parties on August 26. The four-stage PSLV is needed to place both Indian remote sensing satellites and small satellites of foreign customers to space.
- NSIL was formed in March this year to promote Indian space commerce. In its first tender it invited expressions of interest or EoIs from one or more experienced companies or consortia to produce the launchers end to end: their job starts from component procuring, electronics, to large stages and finally the assembly, integration and testing (AIT) of the vehicles. Selected parties can use ISRO facilities where required.
- In the August 16 document titled ‘EoI for PSLV production by Indian industry consortium’, NSIL said, “With a target of producing 12 PSLVs per annum through Indian industry, NSIL/ ISRO, as a first step, is looking forward to 5 PSLVs,” through selected companies or consortia.
- Upon successful and satisfactory completion of realisation of 5 PSLVs, NSIL/ISRO will enhance the scope to 12 PSLVs per annum under a separate contract.
- At the Bengaluru Space Expo held a year ago, ISRO Chairman K. Sivan had urged industries to relieve ISRO of the manufacturing burden, saying the space agency must do 59 launches by 2021 and needed a PSLV strike rate of two a month.
- Of the over ₹6,000 crore sanctioned last year for the cost of 30 PSLVs required during 2019-24, 85% of the money would go to industries.
- ISRO currently sources separate rocket parts from around 500 big and small vendors and does the AIT itself at its facilities in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
- For almost a decade, it has been planning to hand the production over to public and private industries and itself focus on its core job of space R&D.
- On the satellite side, groups of industries are already helping ISRO in AIT at the Bengaluru-based U.R. Rao Satellite Centre and have produced a couple of mid-sized satellites.
- ISRO also has two increasingly more powerful launchers in that order — the GSLV and the GSLV-Mk III, used to lift 2,000 kg and 4,000 kg communication satellites to higher orbits.
- NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), was officially inaugurated in Bengaluru on 26 May 2019.
- NSIL's main objective is to scale up industry participation in Indian space programmes. NSIL was inaugurated by Isro's honorary adviser, Dr K Kasturirangan in the presence of chairman Dr K Sivan.
- NSIL was incorporated on March 6 2019, for commercially utilising research and development activities carried out by ISRO in the area of space with an authorised share capital of Rs 100 crore and initial paid up capital of Rs 10 crore.
- NSIL will act as an aggregator for all space related activities in industry and develop private entrepreneurship in space related technologies.
- Specifically, it will be responsible for manufacturing the and production of Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) and Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) through technology transfer mechanisms.
- It will also cater to emerging global commercial SSLV market demand, providing satellite building and satellite-based services, including supply of sub-systems for various domestic and international application needs and will enable space technology spin-offs through Indian industry interface.
- PSLV is ISRO's workhorse to put light payloads to space & has had 46 successful launches since 1994, the latest being in April 2019.
- It can put 1750-kg payloads/spacecraft to polar orbits 600 km away; & 1450-kg payloads to sub-geosynchronous orbits of around 1500 km
- HAL, L&T, Godrej Aerospace, MTAR and hundreds of small and big companies supply various PSLV parts
- A global commercial favourite for launching small satellites in spare capacity of the rocket; has launched nearly 300 mostly small foreign satellites and earned handsomely from them
- The PSLV had a 2-3-year commercial order of around 800-900 crore from foreign satellite operators, according to 2018 figures of ISRO's older business arm Antrix Corporation which handled commercial launches before NSIL was created.