ISRO Looks to Double Launch Rate, Turn Over Work to Private Sector

PSLV C38 mission launches (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO is looking to double its launch rate and turn over more responsibility to the private sector in the coming years.

Currently, the space agency launches 9 to 10 spacecraft built by it every year. Dr K Sivan, director of Thiruvananthapuram-based Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, said, “Isro is targeting to double the number of launches from 9-10 to 18-19 launches per year.”

On outsourcing of jobs to the private industry, Isro chairman A S Kiran Kumar said the space agency does as much activity as possible with the industry. “Wherever it’s possible to get things done through the industry, we are doing and it will only increase in the coming days because we need to do more frequent activities,” he told a news agency.

Dr Sivan said, “Currently, 80-90 per cent of work relating to launch vehicles are being done by the industry, including private and public sector companies. Only, critical components are manufactured by Isro. After we purchase 90 per cent of vehicle components, propellant casting and vehicle integration are done at the Sriharikota launch centre.” He said, “The space agency currently focuses on vehicle integration, vehicle engineering, mission design (marking trajectory), launch and quality assurance.”

“But gradually Isro wants vehicle parts vendors to become part of the system through joint ventures. Therefore in this direction, Isro is preparing the ground work to involve such companies directly into launch projects,” Dr Sivan said.

The Isro chairman, too, said the space agency is looking at the possibility of building a PSLV in a joint venture with a set of industry partners by 2020-21. The role of industry in the making of satellites, however, is restricted to 30-35 per cent as the spacecraft is the key part of any space mission.

Meanwhile, ISRO is looking to return to flight in December following the failure of a PSLV booster on Aug. 30.  The IRNSS-1 navigation satellite was lost after the rocket’s payload shroud failed to separate.

The Cartosat-2 remote sensing satellite is the primary payload for the PSLV flight next month. Along for the ride will be 25 nanosats, three microsats and possibility a university-built spacecraft.