India Got its Groove Back, Made Progress on Commercializing Space Industry in 2022

When Shri S. Somanath assumed the chairmanship of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) last January, he took over a space agency that had been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. ISRO conducted only four launches in 2020-21, one of which failed. The pandemic had wrecked an ambitious plan to launch Indian astronauts into orbit before the 75th anniversary of the nation’s independence from Britain in August 2022.

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Hindustan Aeronautics, L&T Consortium to Build PSLV Boosters for ISRO

PSLV rocket launches the EOS-4 Earth observation satellite. (Credit: ISRO)

Indian media are reporting that a partnership of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and L&T consortium submitted the winning bid to manufacture five Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) privatizes key elements of the nation’s space program. BusinessToday.In reports:

“The company is the lead partner with L&T sharing the work. Other vendors too will be involved with the consortium in the manufacturing of the launch vehicles (LVs). However, the contract is yet to be formalised/ awarded,” HAL said in a statement.

This will be the first time that the industry will build a LV and will pave the way for commercialisation of other LVs, including the small satellite launch vehicle.

“ISRO’s commercial arm, NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) had floated a request for proposal for the said work in December, 2020,” HAL added.

The first rocket is expected to be realised sometime during the second half of 2024 and the balance four rockets will be delivered during 2025 and 2026 at two rockets per year.

India has taken a number of legal steps to privatize the nation’s government-run space program. Legal and regulatory changes have been undertaken, and private Indian space companies have signed agreements giving them access to ISRO facilities for testing purposes.