ISRO may do a 68-satellite single launch next year

Updated - September 22, 2016 04:23 pm IST

Published - August 31, 2016 05:24 pm IST - Bengaluru:

Next year, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) may be beating its own record and sending 68 tiny satellites of a single customer into space on one rocket.

Its previous best was 20 on June 22 and the world’s best multi-satellite launch to date is 32.

"We have many [upcoming commercial] launches. One particular launch we are planning with 68 nano satellites is yet to be finalised," said Rakesh Sashibhushan, Chairman and Managing Director of Antrix Corporation Ltd., in response to queries about future launch orders for the PSLV.

The 68 can be packed into smaller bundles each carrying four or more satellites - as was done for one customer in June. They will be tucked into spare spaces available on the launcher. ISRO may send them up along with a primary foreign satellite.

Antrix, as ISRO's commercial outfit, markets the PSLV internationally and has so far put 74 small, medium and solo spacecraft in orbit for over 20 customers since the late 1990s. The global launch services market is around $ 16 billion, he said.

Space conference

Mr. Sasibhushan, along with Antrix officials and CII Karnataka Chairman Ravi Raghavan, gave details of the fifth two-yearly Bangalore Space Expo (BSX) 2016 starting here on September 1.

ISRO has been trying to encourage Indian public and private sector industry to start making Indian launchers and satellite systems and then capitalise on the $ 335-billion global space market. The three-day conference and exposition is meant to be a useful exposure in this.

About opportunities for industry, Mr. Sasibhushan said over 2,000 small satellites were planned to be launched globally in the next five years and this was a market worth $ 16 billion. While ISRO plans to reduce import of satellite components, it also needs Indian-made space-grade solar panels, sensors, space avionics products.

The conference will focus on small satellites, space-based navigation and startups.

We will fight all Devas claims: Antrix chief

Space company Antrix Corporation Ltd, which faces liability claims of several thousand crores of rupees from former partner Devas Multimedia P Ltd, will contend them in all cases, its chief said on Tuesday.

"The matter is sub-judice. We cannot discuss its details here. I can say we will continue to challenge them wherever they go," said Rakesh Sasibhushan, Chairman & Managing Director of Antrix, during a news conference here.

This is the first time an Antrix chief has publicly reacted to the imbroglio since it broke out in 2011.

Devas, a Bengaluru startup, has hauled Antrix into two arbitration cases after their 2005 contract for two S-band communication satellites was cancelled in 2011.

In July, the UN's Permanent Court for Arbitration at the Hague upheld Devas's contention and faulted the cancellation of the contract under a bilateral agreement between India and Mauritius, where a Devas promoter is based.

Last year, the Paris-based International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce directed Antrix to pay Devas Rs. 4400 crore in damages.

Antrix's 2015-16 turnover is estimated art Rs. 2,000 crore.

The government, while annulling the contrct, cited procedural irregularities and security reasons. ISRO was to build the satellites GSAT-6 and 6A consecutively and Devas was to have used them to provide high-speed internet-based multi-media mobile services across the sub-continent.

The CBI is simultaneously probing money laundering charges against Devas and former ISRO officials.

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