India figures out science of rocket dollars

A double delight for India and its space scientists as polar satellite launch vehicle PSLV-C23 reiterated its efficiency by launching five foreign satellites and promised to transform rocket science from a perceived money guzzler into a real revenue earner. As Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi joined top scientists at the mission control centre in Sriharikota, the rocket lifted off at 9.52am and, within 20 minutes, injected the satellites — SPOT-7, a 714kg French earth observation satellite, and four lighter ones from Canada, Germany and Singapore. “India has launched 40 foreign satellites,” Mr Modi said. Later, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan told TOI that the organisation has lined up at least three big commercial launches of five foreign satellites in the next couple of years. “Early next year we will launch a set of three satellites for the UK. The next one, for Singapore, will have a co-passenger satellite. This will be followed by the launch of a German satellite,” Dr Radhakrishnan said. When Mr Modi quipped that India’s Mars mission cost less than the Hollywood movie ‘Gravity’, what was left unsaid was that Antrix Corporation, the government’s space commerce company has been making more money every year. Antrix increased its revenue from Rs 1,300 crore in 2012-13 to about Rs 1,600 in 2013-14. Antrix Chairman and Managing Director Mr V S Hegde has forecast a 15% increase in revenue the next fiscal year. While the international rates for satellite launches hover around $15,000 (Rs 9 lakh) to $20,000 (Rs 12 lakh) a kg, Antrix had charged the Italian Space Agency $29,000 per kg to launch its 352kg satellite Agile on board PSLV-C8 in 2007 because of the orbit and inclination specifications.

Source: Times of India

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