Bangalore: India is in talks with the US to build and launch commercial satellites for American customers, for which the two countries are expected to sign an agreement, said G. Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, or Isro.
In a sign of increasing cooperation with the US in space research, India on 20 July signed a technology safeguards pact that also allows it to launch scientific and remote sensing satellites with US components. So far, satellites with US-built components needed prior approval from the US state department before being launch by a foreign space agency.
More opportunities: Isro chairman G. Madhavan Nair. Shailendra Bhojak / PTI
The country now expects to sign a commercial satellite launch agreement (CSLA) that would allow American firms to use Indian launchers at lower costs than in the US.
“Space cooperation with the US has been (the) agenda of the government,” Nair told reporters. “We will be able to launch heavy satellites on a case-to-case basis.”
India offers satellite-launching services at three-fourths the price charged by global space launch companies such as Arianespace and International Launch Services. India has two rockets, the workhorse PSLV for remote sensing satellites, and GSLV, with the capability to hurl 2.5 tonnes communication satellites into space. India expects to lower the cost of sending a satellite to space by half through its heavier rocket GSLV-MKIII, which will be ready by 2011.
“We will have more opportunities to get foreign satellites for launch from India. Before this (agreement), users had to wait for clearance for every case,” Nair said.
Nair was speaking at the launch of a locally built mapping and image processing software by Scanpoint Geomatics Ltd, an Ahmedabad-based firm. Isro, which selected Scanpoint for the software package, will get 10% royalty on its sales.
The product is being sold commercially at Rs12 lakh per licence, half the cost of such products from Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. and ERDAS Inc., said Arup R. Dasgupta, director of Scanpoint Geomatics.
The geographical information system software is used to analyse maps for segments such as urban and rural planning.