By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Chennai, June 25 (IANS) The first half of 2022 for the Indian space sector was eventful largely outside of the rocket launch pads like the selection of the HAL-L&T consortium to make PSLV rockets, inking the deal with OneWeb to orbit their small satellites and moving ahead in connection with India’s first human space mission.
With regard to satellite launches, the ISRO successfully put into orbit its latest ‘eye in the sky’ the radar imaging satellite EOS-04 formerly called RISAT-1A.
Later European Space Agency Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket orbited India’s communication satellite GSAT-24 while ISRO with its PSLV rocket is expected to orbit three foreign satellites on June 30.
These apart, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) got S. Somanath as its new Chairman, the inauguration of the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) – the regulator for private sector space players-office in Gujarat, are the other notable events.
In the private sector, the rocket making startups tested their engines and also raised funds while satellite maker Syzygy Space Technologies Pvt Ltd, commonly known as Pixxel, launched its first satellite with Space X’s rocket.
However, the space sector reform measures like the finalisation of policies, the foreign direct investment (FDI) norms, space insurance and passing of the Space Activities Bill didn’t happen.
The Russia’s military action in Ukraine has benefited ISRO and its commercial arm NewSpace India Ltd with OneWeb, a joint venture between India Bharti Global and the UK government deciding to use Indian rockets for launching their satellites.
The first launch with New Space India is anticipated in 2022 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.
“This is yet another historic day for collaboration in space, thanks to the shared ambition and vision of New Space India Ltd (NSIL) and OneWeb. This most recent agreement on launch plans adds considerable momentum to the development of OneWeb’s network, as we work together across the space industry towards our common goal of connecting communities globally,” Sunil Bharti Mittal, OneWeb Executive Chairman said.
Space sector experts had earlier told IANS, the US and Europe’s economic sanctions against Russia for its war against Ukraine may throw up economic opportunities for the Indian space sector, instead of burdening it with economic cost.
They also said that to cash in on the opportunities, India should accelerate its satellite launch capabilities, and announce productivity-linked incentive (PLI) schemes for the aerospace sector.
In April, the NSIL said the Hindustan Aeronautics and L&T consortium had turned out to be the lowest bidder to make five PSLV-XL rockets.
According to an official, the remaining activities are expected to be completed in a couple of months’ time, if everything goes smoothly.
“The first PSLV-XL rocket is expected to be realised in 24 months from the date of award of the contract. Subsequently one rocket every six months has to be delivered to NSIL,” the official told IANS.
The NSIL will also issue an Expression of Interest (EOI) for making the ISRO’s small rocket – Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV)– which is under development.
Following that will be the EOI for making ISRO’s heavier rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III (GSLV-MkIII), the official added.
The other notable happenings are:
-ISRO successfully conducted the qualification test of cryogenic engine for its ambitious Gaganyaan/human space programme.
-The Indian space agency also successfully fired the high thrust Vikas engine to power India’s first rocket that would carry humans, and also successfully tested the solid fuel motor of its small rocket under development.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)