The European satellite and rocket launching services provider Arianespace said it will start booking orders globally to send satellites into orbit on Indian rockets. Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) has two rockets—the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) and the geo-stationary satellite launch vehicle (GSLV). While PSLV is used to launch earth observation satellites in the lower earth orbit, GSLV rocket launches communication satellites farther into space.
Jean-Yves Le Gall, chairman and CEO of Arianespace, said he expects Isro’s satellite launch vehicle capabilities to start attracting several global customers. “We want to propose to our customers to fly their satellites either on PSLV or GSLV as their capabilities are now established. Isro’s satellite launch vehicle platform is now qualified,” he added. Arianespace, which has so far launched 13 satellites of Isro, is set to launch the Insat-4G towards the end of 2008 or early 2009 from French Guiana.
The €1 billion (Rs5,620 crore) European satellite launcher that has so far launched 248 satellites and controls more than 50% of the global market share has heavy satellite launcher Ariane-5 and medium launcher Soyuz. Its lightweight satellite launcher, Vega, is set to debut from the Guiana Space Center in 2009.
Gall termed Arianespace’s efforts toward marketing India’s satellite launch vehicle capacities as “one more step in our joint venture with Isro and immediate initiatives would be more towards marketing India’s PSLV capabilities.” This will enable Isro to start pitching for launch contracts for lightweight satellites using the PSLV platform at nearly 30% less than the $25,000 per kg (Rs10 lakh) charged by Arianespace.
India is currently in the process of tripling its five-year space budget to nearly Rs45,000 crore by 2012 in a bid to launch more satellites and rockets for both local and foreign customers, and also send an astronaut into space in the next decade. Taking advantage of the booming demand for capacity, India is planning to double its annual satellite launches and put into space up to 25 spacecraft over the next five years.
Arianespace now has backlog orders that include 29 satellites to be launched into geo-stationary transfer orbit using Ariane-5 and possibly Soyuz for the smaller spacecraft, Gall said.