Industries’ contribution to India’s space programme would be significantly scaled up as ISRO looks to focus predominantly on Research & Development (R&D), the space agency’s chairman K. Radhakrishnan has said.

Mr. Radhakrishnan said the industries associated with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) are all currently “jobbing partners” but their role would go up further, in view of programmes to enhance the production of satellites and rockets.

According to ISRO officials, more than 500 small, medium and large—scale industries participate in the space programme in the form of hardware development and supply, software and other services.

Mr. Radhakrishnan, also Secretary in the Department of Space, said nearly 80 per cent of direct cost of Polar Satellite Launch vehicle, for example, flows to industries, a figure which would go up further, but hastened to add that ISRO would continue to have a role.

“Operational communication satellites and operational launch vehicles should predominantly be carried out through the industrial sector”, he told PTI as he gave an overview of ISRO’s thrust in the 12th plan (2012—2017).

Mr. Radhakrishnan said ISRO is working out a model by which industries would get into the task of integration of stages and rockets. At present, industrial association with ISRO has several layers but the space agency now wants to bring all such partners together.

“It’s an orchestra you have to mobilise with ISRO also being there,” he said.

“We have to work out a model in which the amount of energy and resources spent by ISRO for these launch vehicles will be reduced and they (industries) will take up. We (ISRO) want to predominantly focus on new developments and research and development for the future. That’s the basic idea,” added Mr. Radhakrishnan.

Bangalore-headquartered ISRO plans to undertake 58 missions — 25 launch vehicles (rockets) and 33 satellites — during the 12th Plan. Work has already started on building a six—tonne class communication satellite.

Plans are also on to launch an earth observation satellite having capability to get 50 metre resolution pictures from geostationary orbit, the ISRO Chairman said.

ISRO’s upcoming satellites Cartosat-2D and Cartosat-2C would have spatial resolution of 0.6 metres and Cartosat-3 0.25 metres.

Astrosat, an astronomical observatory for study of cosmic sources, would be launched next year, he said.

“Astrosat is going to be a very major initiative for astronomy not only for ISRO and India but for the world.”

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