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ISRO expanding facilities

Madhumathi D.S.

In Bangalore, the ISRO Satellite Centre is expanding into a new 110-acre Assembly Integration & Testing Centre, which can handle 4-6 satellites at a time. Work on the nearly Rs 100-crore centre has been contracted out and the AIT is expected to be completed in two years

BANGALORE, June 5

AMIDST heightened activity in the coming years, ISRO has embarked on a large-scale expansion of its satellite making facility at Bangalore and propellant plant infrastructure at two other centres.

In Bangalore, the ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) is expanding into a new 110-acre Assembly Integration & Testing Centre, which can handle 4-6 satellites at a time. Work on the nearly Rs 100-crore centre has been contracted out and the AIT is expected to be completed in two years. However, its compact antenna testing centre is likely to become operational in the next few months.

Likewise, the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre facility at Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu and the SHAR launchpad at Sriharikota are set to see major investments by way of large liquid and solid propellant plants respectively, according to officials. This will be a major system fuelling ISRO's launch vehicle programme, which includes the PSLV and the GSLV boosters.

However, ISRO is exploring new options of involving the private sector to run the fuel plants. It built the present liquid hydrogen plant and handed over its O&M to Indian Oxygen.

ISRO has on its decade plan 15 upcoming PSLVs, which will be expected to take on commercial demands. Ten GSLVs and three GSLV mark 3s have also been lined up. With GSLV Mark 3 approved for lifting four-tonne satellites - but not before 2007, the propellant demand is likely to go up 3-4 fold.

In Bangalore, the land for the AIT centre, some six km from ISAC, was acquired from HAL. The current facility at ISAC is spread over 30 acres on Airport Road. According to ISAC Director, Dr P.S. Goel, with over 25 satellite projects coming up this decade, the expansion is part of normal growth of the centre.

Between 2002 and 2010, ISAC will be handling 11 Insats, six experimental GSATs or technology satellites, three met sats and seven remote sensing satellites. These include the country's first Cartosat and Resourcesat, which are slated for 2002-03.

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