Rising commercial revenues help Isro boost expenditure

Rising commercial revenues help Isro boost expenditure
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First Published: Fri, Apr 13 2007. 12 50 AM IST
Updated: Fri, Apr 13 2007. 12 50 AM IST
Bangalore: Antrix Corp., the marketing arm of Indian Space Research Organization (Isro), expects a 30% growth in revenue, up to Rs650 crore for the year ending March 2008, aided by leasing transponders on a satellite launched last month to communication customers and direct-to-home television channels such as Eenadu Television and Sun TV.
The enhanced revenues at Antrix in fiscal 2008 will help Isro increase its projected expenditure to Rs3,858 crore, the highest in recent years and 29% more than budgeted for in the previous financial year.
The Union government’s department of space, which finances Isro activities, is increasing spending to build more rockets and communication satellites, besides preparing groundwork for the proposed manned mission. The space agency spent Rs2,997 crore in 2006-07, an increase of 12%, or Rs330 crore over the previous financial year.
Antrix’s revenue for the year, accounts which are yet to be audited, was Rs500 crore, a 21% increase over Rs412 crore in the previous fiscal year, said K.R. Sridhara Murthi, Antrix’s executive director.
The company reported net profit of Rs61 crore in the year to March 2006. Profits for the financial year gone by have not been finalized.
The marketing firm sells images from its six remote sensing satellites, building systems and satellites for overseas universities. It has launched six micro satellites for overseas universities and has contracts with several institutions in Canada and Singapore.
The satellite launched in March, INSAT-4B, which will be operational in a week, has 12 C-band transponders for communication and 12 transponders on the high-frequency Ku-band, typically used for DTH services. Eenadu and Sun, both South India-based TV networks that run channels in languages such as Telugu and Kannada, have been waiting for transponder capacity to be able to launch DTH services in India.
“This satellite alone will add nearly 10% to our revenue. In addition, building satellites for foreign companies will bring in more money,” Murthi said.
India offers to build and launch satellites 40% cheaper than its European and US competitors. Isro will earn around $11 million, or Rs48.4 crore, by launching a 350kg Italian weather satellite, ‘Agile’, on 23 April, on a stripped-down Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), the space agency’s workhorse rocket.
Isro will remove the six strap-on boosters, which helps in creating the thrust to carry heavy satellites, from the rocket, which will also carry a 185kg experimental control and guidance system for future Indian rockets in the next two decades.
Antrix has been sub-contracted to build two communication satellites for European satellite maker EADS Astrium and has in the pipeline the launch of smaller satellites of Italy and Israel. “Talks are on with EADS for building a few more satellites,” said Murthi.
The space agency also aims to earn revenue of Rs800 crore by selling high-resolution imagery from its remote-sensing satellite, Cartosat-2, launched in January, to town planners and inland security in the US and other countries in the next five years.
US company Digital Globe, which owns Quickbird-2, and GeoEye, which operates Ikonos-2 and Orbview-3 satellites, dominate the high resolution image market of less than one metre or snapping images of a road sign. Israel has its Eros-A1 satellite.
Antrix estimates the global market for high-resolution imagery in the one-metre segment as up to $500 million. In India, the market is expected to be around Rs35 crore.
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First Published: Fri, Apr 13 2007. 12 50 AM IST
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