Bangalore: India’s space agency is to launch an Italian satellite by a home-built rocket this month, its first foreign commercial contract from an overseas customer, a spokesman said on 12 April.
“The tentative date of the launch is 23 April,” said S. Krishnamurthy, spokesman for the Bangalore-based Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
Preparations are under way for the launch of the Agile satellite from the Sriharikota space station in southern India, Krishnamurthy said.
The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), the workhorse of the Indian space programme, will blast off with the 360-kilogramme Agile on a mission for the Italian Institute of Astrophysics and the Italian Institute of Nuclear Physics.
It’s the first time ISRO is launching a foreign satellite as the main payload on commercial terms, said Krishnamurthy, who didn’t disclose how much the space agency would receive as payment.
The PSLV, capable of carrying 1,000-kilogramme payloads, has previously put in space small, experimental and so-called piggyback satellites for customers from South Korea, Germany and Belgium.
“The PSLV has proved its reliability and versatility with many successes,” the ISRO spokesman said. “If this launch too is a success, it will be a good beginning.
“We expect more and more people to show interest in using our launch capability,” he added.
India, which started its space programme in 1962, developed the PSLV, which has carried out six consecutive successful missions since 1999, to reduce dependence on foreign space agencies.