In a move to liberalize the Indian space sector, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has tasked a consortium led by private defence equipment supplier Alpha Design Technologies to manufacture two full satellites.
The timeline is tight; a team of 70 engineers is working towards making a full, flight-ready satellite within 6 months, led by Colonel H S Shankar, Managing Director of Alpha Design Technologies.
Contracting a private firm to manufacture a full satellite is a first for India. So far, all satellites have fully or partially manufactured by ISRO.
The two satellites will be part of India’s NAVIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) system as backup satellites in case a quick launch is needed. Also known as Swadeshi, the constellation currently consists of 7 functioning satellites in orbit as serves as India’s native GPS system.
With five spacecraft to be launched this year, and 16-17 new satellites manufactured each year by ISRO, the space organization believes that there is a gap in production requirements that can be filled by the private sector.
According to the Deccan Chronicle, M Annadurai, Director of ISRO Satellite Centre in Bengaluru, said, “Basically there is a gap between what we are capable of doing now versus what we are supposed to make. There is a gap between the requirement and our capability. That gap we want to fill up with support from the industry. So it is a really quantum jump and to fill that gap.”