Government approves Rs. 11,000cr for ISRO's PSLV, GSLV programmes
In a huge boost to India's space programme, the Union Cabinet, chaired by PM Modi, on Wednesday committed Rs. 10,911cr to ISRO for building and launching 30 PSLV, and 10 GSLV Mk-III rockets between 2019 and 2024. The funds mandate ISRO to increase its yearly launches to eight per year. Further, the participation of private entities in the space programme, has also been encouraged. Here's more.
ISRO chairman K Sivan expresses his delight
"It is the happiest moment for all of us in ISRO. The Cabinet approval for the PSLV and GSLV rocket launches will give a big boost to our space programmes," said ISRO chairman K Sivan.
The Cabinet's funding approval, broken down into numbers
Of the Rs. 10,911cr sanctioned, Rs. 6,573cr is slated to go into phase 6 ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) continuation programme, which was started in 2008. The remaining Rs. 4,338cr will go into the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk-III Continuation Programme. The expected increase in annual launches resultant of funding would augment communication, navigation, and earth observation in India.
The financial sanction is in line with PM Modi's vision
"The financial sanction for 40 rockets is in line with the vision of PM Modi, who wants to push the use of space technology in social and development programmes of the government for the benefit of the masses," added Sivan.
ISRO has already begun the process to include industry participation
In a bid to increase participation from Indian industry, ISRO has already begun the process of transferring its PSLV technology to a consortium led by firms like Godrej Aerospace, Larsen & Toubro, Hindustan Aeronautics, and Walchand Technologies. The process is expected to be completed by 2021, following which the consortium will supply systems for the rocket, which will be assembled at ISRO's Sriharikota centre.
ISRO's hugely successful PSLV programme to enter Phase 6
The PSLV Programme was sanctioned in 2008, and has already completed four phases. It is set to complete its fifth phase this year, and will enter the newly-funded Phase 6 in 2019. The rocket has been ISRO's workhorse, and in its years of service, has completed three developmental flights, and 43 operational flights. The PSLV's last 41 flights were successful.
GSLV Mk-III to make first operational flights soon
ISRO's heaviest rocket, the GSLV Mk-III, however, is new to the scene and has completed only one developmental flight so far. The newly-sanctioned Phase 1 of the continuation programme will see it carry out its first operational flights. The GSLV is capable of carrying communication satellites of the four tonne class, and will be crucial for India's space programme in the years to come.
What does the new funding mean for India?
The operationalization of PSLV rockets has already made India self-reliant in launching satellites for earth observation, disaster management, navigation and space sciences, and the increase in annual flights will meet the increasing demand for satellite launches. Meanwhile, the operationalization of the GSLV Mk-III will make Indian self-reliant in launching 4 tonne communication satellites, thereby reducing and ultimately eliminating costs of launching from foreign countries.