ISRO To Focus On Domestic Needs For Satellites

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ET Bureau Jul 23, 2011, 02.38am IST - HASSAN: Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chairman, Dr K Radhakrishnan said on Thursday, that the country's nodal space agency will be focused more on meeting the nation's domestic requirements for satellites, than looking for export orders.

At a meeting with reporters at Isro's Master Control Facility at Hassan, Karnataka, Radhakrishnan said there was a significant lag in meeting India's societal and strategic requirements, a situation Isro expects to correct. "At the moment, we have a strong need to fill up the gap we have in the domestic market for transponders. That is our first priority. We face a shortage of about 200 transponders, and augmenting them will be the main focus of the space agency rather than looking for business from foreign countries to build satellites," he said.

Isro has around 150 of its own transponders currently in operation, while leasing 86 transponders from abroad. It expects to have 36 more transponders in operation through its recent launches of GSAT-8 and GSAT-12. Radhakrishnan said that the country was facing a major shortage of transponders, a situation that has forced it to talk to a number of foreign agencies to hire the same.

"We have a few satellites lined up, like the GSAT-7, GSAT-9 and GSAT-11. We are also in the process of leasing some more satellite transponders from foreign operators, and trying to get a few satellites moved into our orbit for a couple of years," he said.

Separately, on the issue of building in its own cryogenic engine, the Isro chairman said that corrective measures, including the re-design of the critical fuel booster turbo component, had been undertaken.

"We need to have groundtesting of the cryogenic engine, with the modified fuelbooster turbo component. This has been planned for 2011 itself. We are also preparing the flight stage, which is expected to be ready by March 2012," Radhakrishnan said.

Isro plans on assembling the flight stage on to the GSLV vehicle after a series of ground tests, and expects to conduct the flight testing in the second-quarter 2012. Further, another cryogenic development called the GSVL Mark-III is also on the anvil.

"It is a heavier cryogenic engine. A major test facility is getting commissioned, where the engine – CE-20- will be tested for short durations, and also simulating the background conditions. We expect to commission this by August 2011. Then we start testing of the engine.

The Isro chairman did not comment on the ongoing Antrix-Devas spat, the latest development of which has seen Devas approach the International Court of Arbitration, seeking the restoration of its 2005 agreement for S-band spectrum.

"The procedure to be followed by the arbitrators is that of the International Chamber of Commerce. Indian law will apply and the seat of arbitration will be New Delhi," he reiterated.

Antrix had entered into an agreement with the Bangalore-based Devas for leasing of S-band capacity on two satellites, GSAT 6 and 6A to be launched by Isro.

The deal had come under scrutiny, after the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India pointed out several discrepancies, and was scrapped by the government in February earlier in the year.
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