Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which took nearly 35 years to complete a century of space missions with the launch of the PSLV C21 last Sunday, is capable of completing the second 100 within next 10 years.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the World Space-Biz 2012, an International Conference on Space Business, which began here on Wednesday, Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan said, ISRO expects to launch 60 missions over the next five years. They include both launch vehicles and satellites, he said, adding it had the potential to complete 200 missions in the next 10 years. “"We are planning about 10 to 12 missions a year,” he said. On how Isro achieved the first 100 space missions, he said while the first 20 took 13 years, the next 20 took 11 years. The latest two phases of 20 missions each took six years and four years, respectively.
With heavy demand for transponders of communication satellites and space missions becoming a lucrative business for the private industry, the Isro chief called on industry to help the organisation create a space industry model for India on the lines of the NASA in USA or EADS in Europe.
“There are 20 big companies in the EADS consortium and in the US, NASA has a large number of industries connected to space technology working with it. This has led them to achieve big time success. We can also achieve this with active participation of the industry, at least to a smaller extent,” he said earlier, in his inaugural speech.
There has to be a vertical integration of Isro and the private industry, he stressed.
Radhakrishnan said in the next two years, Isro planned to forge collaborations with industry on a ‘mission mode’ and create a model for India on the lines of NASA.
“'Now we have to take it forward to the next level of action. In the next two years we need to work out arrangements. On the launch vehicle side we have to see how to enhance the participation of Indian industry in realising the PSLV launch vehicle. In the same way, in the communication satellite building, we want to see enhanced participation by industry. we have to work out the mechanism. By 2014, we want to see a big change,” he said.
He said both the launch vehicle and satellites are priorities in joint development of technology and ISRO wants industry to constantly push in evolving better technologies based on the Isro research.
NASA is now focusing on only the high-end space research, leaving much of the routine jobs like building rockets, to the private sector. While the move is helping a space industry, it helps the private sector play a major role in space exploration.
Speaking of the role of the private sector, Radhakrishnan said, while in 1984, there were only six firms that worked on ISRO's projects, on Wednesday there are over 500 companies working with Isro. About 60 per cent of the budget for space research goes to the industry.
With the cost of space exploration and space research shooting up, it has become now more prudent to hive off non-core business for space research agencies.
To facilitate the industry Isro was planning to set up a Space Park near its spaceport of Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
“We have to evolve something near Sriharikota for that purpose. We need up to 250 acres of land because large volume of products are involved. This is part of the next two years of our agenda. It is a mission for us,” he added.