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Antrix CMD: Industry must help raise India’s share in $360 billion global satellite market

With Indian Space Research Organisation's (Isro's) newly formed commercial arm NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL) taking over the satellite launch contract business, the space agency's old commercial wing Antrix Corporation has now changed its priorities and is now focusing on manufacturing space systems and promoting industry's role in the sector.

Last Updated: Nov 29, 2019, 04.38 PM IST
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Antrix CMD Rakesh Sasibhushan addressing the Broadband India Forum's annual SatCom 2019 event (File photo)
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(This story originally appeared in on Nov 28, 2019)
NEW DELHI: With Indian Space Research Organisation's (Isro's) newly formed commercial arm NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL) taking over the satellite launch contract business, the space agency's old commercial wing Antrix Corporation has now changed its priorities and is now focusing on manufacturing space systems and promoting industry's role in the sector.

Taking to TOI, Antrix CMD Rakesh Sasibhushan said, "With NSIL (in picture), Antrix's primary focus is now on manufacturing of space subsystems and playing an important role in building the industry ecosystem. However, we will also take satellite contracts but we'll do it mainly with NSIL."

On why India's satellite launch revenue is minuscule, the Antrix head said, "The launch revenue of India is less than 20% of Antrix's income, which itself is less than $300 million. Basically you are looking at $50-60 million (annually) as launch revenue, which is nothing compared to the $360 billion global space industry. For increasing the revenue, you need to have good industry ecosystem. Isro alone can't do as the agency's focus is on government systems and security requirements. We need to build technologies and to have commercial companies which are able to provide end-to-end products that they can design and market them globally. We need to build a conducive atmosphere for the growth of the private sector in the commercial space domain so that the country can harness a fair share of the global market." He said the Indian space sector is a closed sector and a lot of work needs to be done to open it beginning with the Space Act being put in place.

On promoting the industry's role, Sashibhushan, on the sidelines of Broadband India Forum's SatCom 2019 event, told TOI, "Isro has already announced plans for the industralisation of space systems like PSLV and SSLV (mini-PSLV). Hopefully, when we move forward, we can reduce costs and be more competitive."

On why Elon Musk-promoted Space X, which has no existence 17 years ago, has now captured almost 60% of the satellite launch market share, he said, "The global launch business is less than 5% of the space industry revenue. The rapid rise in Space X's market share is a significant development and he (Elon Musk) has shown that production technologies can play a big role in reducing costs. He has also done a lot of innovations and also fully developed re-entry systems, which are now reaping profits."

When asked why Isro is not going for fully commercial launches, the Antrix CMD said, "Primary requirement is from nano satellite agregators like Spaceflight. The number (of companies dealing) in nanosatellites is in thousands. PSLV being a small launcher is ideally positioned for that kind of launches. It is not often that we get offer for using full capacity of PSLV. Many of the requirements of such companies are for large satellites, beyond the capacity of PSLV, where we don't have a good launch product."
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