India’s first private rocket set for launch in 2020

The first private rocket built by a consortium of private firms in the country is set for launch by 2020.

If successful, this would increase capacity to hurl smallsatellites into space, meeting both local demand and serving global customers such as OneWeb.

Till now, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) was the only manufacturer of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). In the two decades since its debut launch, PSLVs have done 35 flights, hurling 86 satellites – including 45 foreign, small and medium satellites – into space.

Isro built this rocket by integrating components and systems made by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), Larsen & Toubro, Godrej Aerospace, Avasarala Technologies and Walchandnagar Industries.

However, Isro has been able to scale up production only up to a limit – it has the capacity to launch six PSLVs a year, compared to two a few years earlier.

In the meanwhile, local demand for satellites – for scientific purposes, remote-sensing and observation and planetary missions – is increasing. There is a backlog of 23 foreign satellites.

There are also opportunities from global firms that plan to launch satellites. US-based OneWeb, in which Bharti Airtel has invested, plans to hurl 648 satellites on low-earth orbits to bring internet access to rural areas. Last year, Spire became the first US firm to send satellites on an Indian rocket. Read More

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