Bangalore: India’s space programme is all set to achieve a major milestone when European space consortium Arianespace launches over the weekend the W2M satellite built by ISRO for a foreign customer for the first time fetching it $40 million profit.
Building W2M for satellite operator Eutelsat under the ISRO-EADS Astrium alliance has signalled the Bangalore- headquartered space agency’s foray into the satellite-manufacturing market.
While W2M was built under a $80 million (Rs400 crore) contract by ISRO, officials said it was a good deal for the space agency which made a profit of $40 million (Rs200 crore) in this venture.
“ISRO builds such spacecraft without payloads for less than Rs200 crore. That way we made a good profit”, an ISRO official said.
“It (W2M) is comparable to INSAT-4 series. For the first time, we have built a satellite for a foreign customer. So, that’s why the launch is important for us”, ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair told PTI.
Nair would be at the Europe’s spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana when the W2M spacecraft is launched, along with HOT BIRD satellite built by EADS Astrium, Europe’s leading satellite system specialist, by an Ariane rocket early Sunday Indian time.
ISRO spokesperson S Satish said “weighing 3,462 kg at lift-off, W2M is the heaviest spacecraft built by the Indian space agency till date. It was built in 26 months”.