Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…

U.S. Trade Representative Reviewing Indian Access to Launch Market

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
October 26, 2015
Filed under , , , ,
PSLV rocket lifts off with India's Mars Orbiter Mission. (Credit: ISRO)

PSLV rocket lifts off with India’s Mars Orbiter Mission. (Credit: ISRO)

The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is reviewing a 10-year old policy that has largely kept U.S.-built satellites from being launched aboard Indian launch vehicles.

Last week, USTR official Samuel duPont made a presentation about the review to a working group of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC). Growing demand by American satellite makers for commercial launch services is the reason behind the review.

Mark Sundahl, chairman of COMSTAC’s International Space Policy Working Group, said duPont told the group that one of the main concerns is whether government-owned Indian launch services will operate as commercial entities with respect to launch prices charged. If there is increased competition, USTR wants it to take place on a level playing field.

Launches are conducted by the government-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). During the presentation, DuPont sought input from COMSTAC members regarding any experience they had working with ISRO and how the space agency operates with regard to launch services.

ISRO has three launch vehicles: the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) for small payloads; the Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark I and Mark II for medium payloads; and the GSLV Mark III, a larger rocket now under development.

PSLV 1,750 kg SSO/1,425 kg GTO 31 29 1 1 1993
GSLV Mk. I & II 2,500 kg GTO/5,000 kg LEO 9
4 4 1 2001
 GSLV Mk. III 4,000 GTO kg/8,000 kg LEO 1 (Suborbital) 1  2014

PSLV has proven to be the most reliable Indian launch vehicle; it could serve the growing U.S. small satellite market. A successful PSLV launch in September carried four U.S. CubeSats, marking the first time American satellites had been carried on an Indian launch vehicle.

The GSLV Mk. I and II has had a mixed record, with as many failures as successes. The launch vehicle comes in two variants depending upon the payloads being carried on it.

Despite its mixed record, ISRO has declared the GSLV operational after 14 years of development based on back-to-back successes in 2014 and 2015. Those flights featured successful uses of a domestically produced cryogenic upper stage, which Indian engineers spent about two decades developing. ISRO previously used a limited supply of Russian-made upper stages. ISRO is now marketing GSLV launch services internationally.

The larger GSLV Mk. III had a successful suborbital flight test in December 204. The next flight is scheduled to be an orbital test using a cryogenic upper stage. The flight test is set for December 2016.

7 responses to “U.S. Trade Representative Reviewing Indian Access to Launch Market”

  1. ArcadeEngineer says:

    GSLV mk. I and II aren’t for varying payloads; mk. I is the initial version with a Russian (Krunichev) 12KRB upper stage, and mk. II is the version with the Indian-built CUS.

  2. Steve says:

    What a terrible idea. Let’s give this small comsat business to India, just when we have a bunch of domestic launch providers trying to get into this same market. How are they going to compete against a state sponsor who doesn’t really care about profits ? Maybe Musk can lend some of his lobbyists to make sure this doesn’t go thru.

    • Terry Rawnsley says:

      If we are going to follow that logic, we need to immediately pull out of the WTO, abrogate any and all trade treaties and erect sufficient barriers to prevent U.S. companies from offshoring manufacturing in an attempt to force the U.S. workforce to “race to the bottom” in order to keep profits high.
      Of course, I don’t expect any of this to happen (as much as I would like to see some, but not all, of it) but allowing the Europeans and the Russians and even the Japanese to launch our satellites while discriminating against the ISRO seems like a poor way to win friends and influence people.

      • Paul451 says:

        Actually the WTO allows market restrictions in critical national security areas, or when developing new industries. This would seem to cover both.

        It’s different when you’re dealing with a commodity market.

      • windbourne says:

        In addition, WTO allows nations to keep gov. sponsered companies out of your markets.
        The idea is that trade is supposed to be PRIVATE companies, not gov. companies. It is for that reason that America is keeping emirates and other airlines out of flying in America.

        And it is also why we should not allow AVIC, comac, and other Chinese gov. owned companies into here.

  3. Zed_WEASEL says:

    For GEO comsats only the GSLV Mk III seems capable of launching the lighter Comsats. But the GSLV only have one flight with a dummy upper stage, so a few more years of development.

    The GSLV Mk I & Mk II doesn’t have much in common with the Mk III. They have a interesting vehicle configuration. A solid first stage with a shorter burn time than the strapped-on hypergolic boosters plus a hypergolic second stage and a HydroLox upper stage.

    The GSLV Mk I is retired.

Leave a Reply