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ISRO scouts for hardware vendors

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Mr A.U. Rijhsinghani, Managing Director and CEO, Walchandnagar Industries Ltd (left), with Dr K. Kasturirangan, ISRO Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space, at the inaugural session of `Space industry meet 2002' in Bangalore on Wednesday.

BANGALORE, June 5

THE national space agency ISRO has said it is scouting for long-term and comprehensive domestic vendors of its hardware needs. It is doubling its investment in the industry for the Tenth Plan (2002-07) to around Rs 6,000 crore.

In tune with a new Industrial Participation Policy, it will offer its facilities, expertise and funding support to the private sector to develop fully-tested space components and systems that do not need value addition by ISRO. This, it said, should create a world class space industry while eventually leaving ISRO free to pursue its core function of R&D.

During the Ninth Plan, ISRO spent over 30 per cent of the Budget or Rs 2,900 crore on buying components from industry. During 2000-01 alone, it gave out Rs 654 crore to industries.

Unveiling a space industry perspective that will tap domestic production capabilities in a big way in the coming years, Dr K. Kasturirangan, ISRO Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space, said industry participation has become critical as ISRO is doubling the number of missions — satellites and launch vehicles — during the Tenth Plan of 2002-07 to over 36 from the Ninth Plan, but without increasing its human resource.

The need is for fully assembled stages and systems which can directly go into the satellite or rocket systems, as in Europe or the US, Dr Kasturirangan said. It has set up the Space Industry Development, headed by Mr M.N. Sathyanarayan, to promote the interface.

As in the case of Godrej-MTAR which jointly work for liquid propulsion systems, industries could form consortia and supply full systems for spacecraft, launch vehicles, ground systems among others, he suggested at the 400-strong `Space industry meet 2002' organised here with CII.

After 2008, ISRO expects the industry to take up responsibility for all its production activities, said Mr R.V. Perumal, Associate Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram. Meanwhile, procedures are being worked out for partnerships and movement of people between ISRO and the manufacturers.

Though ISRO is working with 500 industries, there are huge opportunities for large, medium and small industries in space, and for marketing them to ISRO or for exports. The launch vehicle projects get a chunk of 70 per cent of supplies from industry.

The meet will identify areas of mutual benefit, such as hardware, composites, chemicals, avionics, electronic packaging, integration of equipment bay and satellites; software, communication systems and remote sensing.

The liberalisation process began a few years ago with the SatCom Policy allowing private ownership Indian satellites and the Remote Sensing Data Policy to provide imaging data to the private sector.

Mr A.U. Rijhsinghani, Managing Director and CEO of Walchandnagar Industries, one of ISRO's longstanding partners, suggested an industry-ISRO joint forum to develop cooperation strategies and ensure timely supplies.

As ISRO goes in for bigger, better satellites and launch vehicles to meet the growing demand, a survey for the next 10 years has estimated that these projects will need some 1.6 lakh mechanical components and 20 lakh electronic components, 600 transponders, 650 solar panels, 80 batteries.

According to Mr D. Narayana Moorthi, Director, Launch Vehicle Programme Office, with six GSLV missions during the Tenth Plan, its hardware needs will grow three-fold. ISRO has also transferred 247 technologies to industries for commercialisation, a chunk of it in telecom, met and TV hardware.

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