ISRO offers road map for private firms in space business (Lead)

August 25th, 2010 - 8:49 pm ICT by IANS  

ISRO Bangalore, Aug 25 (IANS) The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Wednesday urged the private sector to come up with innovative technologies to join hands with it to tap the growing space business.
The need of the hour was to cater to the increasing demands of the central and state governments for new applications from the space sector, ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan said in his keynote address to the second space exhibition and conference here.

“We need to sustain the constellation of satellites - communication, remote sensing, weather sounding- and also build more of the geo and polar satellite launch vehicles (GSLV and PSLV). This is the road ahead for the industry,” he said.

The four-day expo began here Wednesday with global space agencies and vendors showcasing their latest technologies, products and services.

Organised by ISRO and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the four-day Bengaluru Space Expo 2010 focuses on commercialisation of space, remote sensing and navigation.

Being held at the sprawling Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (BIEC) on the outskirts of the city, the expo has attracted delegates from several countries, including Britain, Denmark, France, Indonesia Israel, Japan, Korea, Thailand and the US.

Laying down the road map for the private industry wanting to invest in the space sector, Radhakrishnan, who is also secretary to the department of space, said the private firms need to develop high end technology building capability to participate in ISRO’s goal of attaining self-reliance.

The development of space sector required building, launching, maintaining and extending operational life of satellites. This requires coming up with innovative technologies for the purpose, he said.

The challenges include maintaining the satellites in orbits for flawless operations for 10 to 15 years and reducing the launching cost by building re-usable rockets, the ISRO chief said.

“We need new technology and the gestation period to develop them is 15 years. Hence the industry must begin now itself,” he added.

Currently, 500 firms-large, medium, small and micro- actively participate in the Rs 1,000 crore Miniratna’s space programmes. The space sector in India is now a $ 2.5 billion industry.

K. R. Sridhara Murthi, managing director of Antrix Corporation Limited, the commercial arm of ISRO, said that the emergence of middle class population would add millions of people globally to the consumer market by 2015 and the scope for the space sector to meet their demands was immense.

“We also have emerging markets in South Asia that demand low cost innovations. India has 30 per cent share in the global space market. Hence this is a significant opportunity,” he said.

Global space majors such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), European Space Agency (SA), EADS Astrium, Glonass, Measat, SkyTerra, Japanese Space Agency, Asia Broadcast Satellite, state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and private firms like Godrej & Boyce, L&T and Devas Media are participating in the event.

The $120 billion global space satellite business is growing rapidly to touch $1.2 trillion in the coming years. About 3,000 manmade satellites are circling planet Earth.

With development of more space based land enabled applications and reusable launch vehicles on anvil, the space industry is set for an exponential growth.

The activity in two commercial satellite services- direct-to-home (DTH) television and Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment and chipsets- is driving the growth of the space industry.

India is ramping up its capabilities to become a major global space power, moving from developing communications and remote sensing satellites to new frontiers like navigation.

According to CII immediate past president Venu Srinivasan, the commercial space sector has experienced unprecedented growth over the past decade. The increasing capacity in the launch services the world over has driven down the cost of commercial space launches drastically.

With the growing need of use of space technology in the field of infrastructure, weather forecasting, disaster management, telecommunications and agricultural guidance services, the expo is aimed at developing a strong base to meet such demand.

The first edition of the space expo was held in this tech hub in November 2008.

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