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ISRO plans to double launches, asks industry for bigger stakes

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HYDERABAD (PTI): The Indian Space Research Organisation intends to more than double its launches a year, and get on board industries to build entire satellites and partner in rocket integration by taking bigger stakes, its Chairman A S Kiran Kumar has said.

India currently has 34 satellites in space but this number falls short of the country's need to generate information, both on earth observation and communication fronts, said Kumar, who is also Secretary in the Department of Space and Chairman, Space Commission.

"We have already reached seven launches in a year. We intend to increase it to almost 12 launches a year...immediately (subsequently) following to reach up to 18 launches a year," he said while delivering a lecture on Saturday evening at the Aeronautical Society of India (AeSI), Hyderabad branch, but did not give time-frame to achieve the objective.

"We need to build capacity and this capacity-building is going to happen with attempts by bringing in industry to use the launch vehicles (rockets of ISRO). We are looking at the industry performing total launch at Sriharikota (ISRO's spaceport) using mechanisms. So, we are working on these mechanisms," he said.

"Today we are working on mechanisms for ensuring that the industry would be able to build and launch satellites using the launch vehicles in our Sriharikota launch pad.

"Industry participation, for example raw materials, fabrication, is happening and vehicle integration is planned for near future. We are in discussion with industries. We are trying to make industries to take bigger stakes in the space programmes," Kiran Kumar said.

ISRO is working on a mechanism with the industry on sharing responsibility, both in terms of investment and in areas of co-development and co-innovation.

G Satheesh Reddy, Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister, said AeSI has approached its counterparts in advanced nations, inviting companies there to set up shop in India in areas of aerospace sector where the country is not strong, in partnership with 'desi' firms, as part of the 'Make in India' push.

Reddy, who is the Chairman of AeSI's Hyderabad branch, said the Society has written letter to them (counterparts in other countries) listing areas in the sector where India needs collaboration.

He said they are expecting response in a couple of months and hope to initiate discussion with serious players from abroad in the second-half of this year, and "marry" them with interested domestic firms.

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