New Delhi: India’s space agency plans to double its revenues to $120 million a year by increasing satellite launches to claim a bigger chunk of the global space business, the head of its space agency said on Friday.
Last April, India sent 10 satellites into orbit from a single rocket, signalling its intention to expand into that business. It also dispatched its first unmanned moon mission last October to join the Asian space race in the footsteps of rival China.
Isro has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with 26 countries for launching satellites and joint research work, including Russia, France, Germany and Italy, along with South Africa and Brazil.
“We are opening up our market further and by next March we are looking at $120 million worth business,” G. Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) told the agency in an interview on Friday.
“A mega European launcher has been delayed, so we will have more customers from Europe now,” Nair said by telephone from the Isro headquarters in Bangalore.
Isro is also building a low-cost powerful satellite vehicle - GSLV Mark 3, which will help the agency double its capacity of sending payloads from 2.5 tonnes at the moment and would also reduce operational costs by 30%.
“We have matured into the space technology and today we have established ourselves as a good service provider for building satellites and launching them,” the chairman said.
The space agency is planning to launch five satellites this year, including one for ocean study by July, and at least two from Europe and Africa by the end of the year.
This April, India launched an Israeli-built military spy satellite, highlighting growing defence ties between New Delhi and Tel Aviv, which is now the second biggest arms supplier to India after Russia.
Isro, with its low-cost services, is also targetting the US to launch their spacecraft from its own space station under a commercial agreement, Nair said.
“We are having discussions with the US government and we are trying to open up the market for launching their satellites,” Nair said.
The space agency is planning it first manned mission to moon by 2015 following the successful mission of Chandrayaan-1 (moon vehicle), an unmanned cuboid spacecraft it sent to the moon to map the surface and look for precious metals last year.
“We have mapped the entire surface, craters and mountains and we have some idea about where titanium, magnesium and aluminium is present,” Nair said.