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ISRO chief counters Madhavan Nair's claims

May 11, 2012 22:09 IST
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Countering claims made by his predecessor G Madhavan Nair, Indian Space Research Organisation chief K Radhakrishnan on Friday said there may not have commercial orders right now from foreign customers other than SPOT-6 but the space agency is in discussions with global agencies for fabricating and launching satellites.

"Right now, we have the commercial order of SPOT-6 from foreign customers, but there has been very serious enquiries for a few dedicated launches (heavy satellites to be launched by PSLV). These are at discussion level at the moment," he said on the sidelines of 40 years of ISRO's existence.

Nair had said ISRO had not won a single international order in the last 30 months and the orders for SARAL and SPOT-6 satellites were won in 2008.

Nair also said the orders for launching SARAL, a French satellite, and SPOT-6, a satellite built by Astrium, the global majors, were won amid cut-throat competition during his tenure as the chairman of Antrix, ISRO's international marketing arm.

Talking to reporters, Radhakrishnan said the discussions would centre around "when they (foreign customers) want it and when ISRO would be ready to launch it." The Antrix is in the process of finalising this arrangement, he added.

On future launches, he said GSLV would undergo an acceptance test tomorrow at a special facility at the Liquid Propellant System Centre at Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu.

"Thereafter the GSLV will undergo two more tests including an endurance test of 1,000 seconds at the same place."

Radhakrishnan said ISRO was confident of using an indigenous cryogenic engine to propel its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicles (GSLV) by September this year.

ISRO would launch a low cost communication geo-stationary satellite GSAT-14 on board GSLV D5 this year. "GSAT-7 is scheduled for launch in few months time," he added.

Two more PSLV flights were on India's launch schedule in 2012. Astrium's commercial Spot 6 imaging satellite would be launched in August, and the SARAL altimetry mission developed by France and India, in October to measure global sea surface height, Radhakrishnan said.

Another PSLV would deploy the first dedicated Indian navigation satellite in orbit in early 2013, he said.

ISRO also plans to have GSAT-15 and GSAT-16 which would be a replica of GSAT-8 and GSAT-10, Radhakrishnan said.

ISRO Satellite Centre Director T K Alex said ISRO was planning to have a six ton satellite and right now the space organisation was focusing on designing aspects. "The six ton satellite will have 48 or even 60 transponders," he said.

It would take 30 to 36 months to complete "such a huge project and having six ton satellite makes economic sense", Alex said.

Asked the reason for Nair not being invited for ISRO's 40-year-celebrations, Alex said the former ISRO Chairman had sent a message about his unavailability.

The government has barred Nair and three other ISRO scientists from holding government posts for their alleged role in the controversial Antrix-Devas deal.

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