GISAT set for 2016-17 launch: ISRO chairman
In an exclusive interview to TOI, ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan speaks about the increasing number of commercial launches by the space agency, entrusting private players with the task of building rockets and satellites and on the formation of a consortium to build PSLV for 21 consecutive launches by 2017.
How does increasing the number of commercial launches help the space agency in its quest for space success?
While the primary mandate for our launch vehicle development programme is to meet the national needs of orbiting satellites for remote sensing, communications, navigation and space science, the commercial launch opportunities enabled us to benchmark our Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) series in the global context. In the next mission of PSLV, we are set to launch six more foreign satellites from Austria, Canada, Denmark and the UK. Discussions are on for launching a few more foreign satellites during 2013-15. This is a tacit recognition by international community of the technological maturity, reliability and cost-effectiveness of our PSLVs. Also, these commercial endeavours foster international cooperation in the field of space technology.
How does the trend of entrusting private players with the task of building rockets and satellites help Isro?
In the late 1970s, Isro took a seminal decision to induct Indian industry as a partner in executing our space programme. At present, about 500 firms from both public sector and private sector (large, medium, small and micro) are contributing to the Indian space programme in a major way. While we accomplished a quantum jump in terms of missions and their complexities over the decades, Isro’s human capital has remained more or less constant at about 16,000 since the mid 1980′s. It is the track record of this alliance that gives us the confidence to further enhance the role and responsibility of Indian industry for managing the operational component of our space programme. To start with, that does include building the PSLV rockets and communication satellites.
How far has the idea, to form a consortium to build PSLV for 21 consecutive launches by 2017, materialized?
We have had 22 launches of PSLV series so far. During the 12th Five Year Plan period, 17 launches of PSLV have been envisaged. The PSLV has earned a niche in the international market which needs to be harnessed. However, we need to fly a few GSLVs and GSLV Mk III during the next five years. There is also a suite of major developmental tasks on hand — essentially in the area of semi-cryogenics, re-usable launch vehicle technology, air-breathing propulsion technology and space exploration — which would place a heavy demand on our internal resources.
In this context, the idea to form a consortium with industry to build PSLVs to meet national needs and international commercial opportunities was mooted by Isro. We are delighted to see the positive response from the industry and their representative bodies. We have to complete a number of studies form the industrial organization and obtain the necessary approvals so that by 2017 we could roll out a PSLV through this organizational arrangement.
The 12th Five Year Plan sanctions at least 58 missions in the next five years, at almost one launch a month. What’s the progress?
As of now, 58 space missions have been planned during the 12th Five Year Plan period, comprising of 33 satellite missions and 25 launch vehicle missions (17 PSLVs, 6 GSLV and 2 GSLV MK III). This plan necessitates 25 launches from Sriharikota over a five year period for orbiting 23 Indian satellites and a few foreign satellites onboard PSLV. The 10 heavier Indian geostationary satellites would be launched from abroad.
When do you plan to launch the Geo Imaging Satellite?
Geo Imaging Satellite (GISAT) will observe earth from geo-stationery orbit, enabling continuous observation of Indian sub-continent, to facilitate quick monitoring of natural hazards and disaster. The project is progressing well for a launch by GSLV in 2016-17.Share this: Twitter | StumbleUpon | Facebook | Delicious | digg | reddit | buzz
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