India Eyes Satellite Launch Business


"The mission was perfect," said G Madhavan Nair, chairman of the state-run Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Mr. Nair was celebrating the latest successful launch by India of a mission with 10 satellites from the Sriharikota space center off India's east coast. With its headquarters in Bangalore, the ISRO employs approximately 20,000 people, with a budget of around US$815 million. Its mandate is the development of technologies related to space and their application to India's development. In addition to domestic payloads, it offers international launch services. ISRO currently launches satellites using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and the GSLV for geostationary satellites.

This latest success by ISRO makes India a serious contender in the fast growing $2.5B commercial satellite launch business expected to grow rapidly over the next several years. The BBC is reporting that the rocket carried an Indian mini satellite to gather technological data which will be available for sale, and eight tiny research satellites belonging to research facilities in Canada, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. India started its space program in 1963, and has since designed, built and launched its own satellites into space.

Last year, India put an Italian satellite into orbit for a fee of $11m. In January, India successfully launched an Israeli spy satellite into orbit using the PSLV, according to the BBC. The Israeli satellite launch drew strong protest from Iran amidst growing and multi-dimensional India-Israel collaboration. Israeli arms sales to India in 2006 were $1.5 billion, roughly the same as in each of the preceding three years as well. This from Israel’s total arms sales of $4.2 billion in 2006; the India market comprised more than one-third. A report by the Brookings Institution, a pro-Israeli US Think Tank, welcomed this collaboration and said, "The Israeli-Indian connection in commercial military and space intelligence fields is good for both countries and for the United States. In less than two decades since diplomatic ties were upgraded, New Delhi and Jerusalem have come a long way. Camp David was a pivotal moment on the way. The cooperation between Israel and India, with U.S. blessing, provides important security to two democratic countries in a very unstable part of the world."




India's own satellite named Technology Experiment Satellite (TES), which can be used as a spy satellite, has been beaming down what space officials call "excellent pictures". TES, launched in October 2001 from the Sriharikota launch pad, is a precursor for the launch of fully operational spy satellites. Indian Defense Minister has been touting India's satellite-based Military Surveillance and Reconnaissance System that was scheduled to become operational by 2007 allowing it to keep watch on developments in its neighborhood, including Pakistan and China. It has, however, been delayed with no new dates announced.

Beyond the Indian commercial ambitions, this milestone for India represents a strategic capability as an emerging economic, political and military power on the world stage. This is also a great comeback for ISRO about two years after a launch in 2006 had to be destroyed less than a minute after lift off when it veered from its path.

The Pakistan Space Agency or Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), the equivalent of ISRO in India, is the Pakistani state-run space agency responsible for Pakistan's space program. It was formed in September 1961 by the order of President Ayub Khan on the advice of Professor Dr Abdus Salam, Nobel Laureate, who was also made its founding director. The headquarters of SUPARCO is located in Islamabad, however with the development of Sonmiani it is expected that the new headquarters will be moved in the near future. The agency also has offices in Lahore and at Karachi (an engineering installation). SUPARCO has no launch capability of its own. It has relied on Chinese and Russian space agencies to launch its satellites Badr-1 and Badr-2.

SUPARCO saw major cuts in its budgets in the decades of 80s and 90s. Last year, its annual budget was a modest $6m. In fact, Pakistan had no communication satellites in space until 2003. The urgency to place its first satellite in a geo-Stationary Orbit was keenly felt in the middle of 2003, by which time Pakistan had already lost four of its five allotted space slots. The five slots were allotted to Pakistan by ITU (International Telecommunication Union) back in 1984, but the country failed to launch any satellite till 1995. That year Pakistan again applied for and received the five slots, but once again the government failed to get a satellite into orbit, losing four of it slots in the process. According to officials, if Pakistan had failed to launch its satellite by April 19, 2003, the country would have lost its fifth and last 38-degree east slot when the availability of these space slots is getting difficult every day.

Pakistan’s former Science and Technology Minister, Dr. Atta-ur Rehman said retention of the slot was important from commercial and strategic points of view as it would assure retention of a foothold in space. Air Vice Marshall Azhar Maud, Chairman NTC, said that a geo stationary satellite could be used to secure defence communication, act as a lookout for a missile attack and detect any nuclear detonation or explosion. M Nasim Shah of the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission(SUPARCO) said that the technology is vital for making the nuclear command and control mechanisms “credible”.

Recognizing that it is significantly lagging behind Indian Space program, President Pervez Musharraf has outlined his vision for SUPARCO by laying down a clearly defined agenda for the national space agency. Revitalization, restructuring, reorientation and modernization of SUPARCO are the main objectives outlined by President Musharraf. SUPARCO is to be brought at par with other successful space agencies of the world. Specific objectives include research and development of communication satellites, remote sensing satellites and satellite launch vehicles, with the objective of bringing rapid growth and socio-economic development in the fields of education, information technology, communications, agriculture sector, mineral excavation and atmospheric sciences. As an established and well recognized nuclear and missile power the next logical frontier for Pakistan is space. President Musharraf had made it clear that Pakistan would need to catch up to the world space leaders and make up for lost time and neglect in the past.

In 2001, Pakistan was reportedly in the process of developing its own Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV). Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, considered the father of Pakistan's nuclear program, said in March 2001 that Pakistani scientists were in the process of building the country's first SLV and that the project had been assigned to SUPARCO. According to Dr. Abdul Majid, chairman of SUPARCO, Pakistan envisaged a low-cost SLV in order to launch lightweight satellites into low-earth orbits. Dr. Khan also cited the fact that India had made rapid strides in the fields of SLV and satellite manufacture as another motivation for developing an indigenous launch capability. According to an Islamabad news source, the SLV would be derived from an already available missile launching system, which may be an indication that technologies acquired for the ballistic missile program would eventually be used to develop an SLV. All the experiments necessary to ready the SLV for a complete flight test have not been completed, although Pakistani scientists have tested three of the four stages. The nuclear proliferation allegations and events leading up to the Dr. A.Q. Khan's fall from grace and subsequent house arrest have clearly been a setback for Pakistan's space efforts.

India's success in space is likely to be seen in Pakistan as a threat, or at least a major challenge that they must respond to. Pakistan has a lot of catching up to do to try and reduce the gap between the space capabilities of the two nuclear-armed rivals in South Asia.

Just as Russia's Sputnik launch on October 4, 1957, spurred the Americans to respond with a comprehensive effort in space technology, the Indian success yesterday has the potential to serve as a wake-up call for Pakistanis to renew their efforts and focus on science and technology education, innovation and research to become competitive with India in space. Only time will tell if Pakistanis are really up to this challenge.

Sources:
1. News Agency Reports
2. BBC News
3. Wikipedia Entries on ISRO, SUPARCO
4. CNS-Current and Future Space Security

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Former ISRO chief Madhavan Nair barred from holding Indian govt jobs, reports The Indian Express:

In an unprecedented disciplinary action, four of the biggest names in the space community, including former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) G Madhavan Nair, have been barred from occupying any government position — current or in future — for their role in the Antrix-Devas deal, in which a private company was accused to have been wrongfully allotted S-band frequencies for radio waves.

A Bhaskarnarayana, former scientific secretary in ISRO; K R Sridharmurthi, former managing director of Antrix which is the marketing arm of ISRO; and K N Shankara, former director in ISRO’s satellite centre, are the others who have been penalised, according to an order issued by the Department of Space on January 13, 2012.

Nair, during whose tenure the contract was signed, is the recipient of the Padma Vibhushan. He is the chairman of the board of governors of IIT Patna.

The order, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, is signed by Sandhya Venugopal Sharma, director, Department of Space. While it does not specify the allegations against these scientists, the order says that the decision comes after the government “carefully considered” the report of the high-powered review committee set up on February 10, 2011 and that of another team set up on May 31, 2011.

The order, sent to all Secretaries of the Government of India and Chief Secretaries of state governments and Union Territories, says that these “former Officers of the Department of Space shall be excluded from re-employment, committee roles or any other important role under the government”.

Further, the order states that “these former officers shall be divested of any current assignment/consultancy with the government with immediate effect”. Ministries and departments concerned have been asked to communicate necessary action taken towards the same to the Department of Space.

The deal involved a contract that Antrix Corporation — whose mandate is to market technologies developed by ISRO — had signed with Bangalore-based Devas Multimedia in 2005. The multi-million dollar deal gave Devas bulk lease — 90 per cent — of transponders on two yet-to-be-launched satellites for supporting a range of satellite-based applications for mobile devices through S-band frequencies. For this, the company was given access to 70 MHz of the 150 MHz spectrum that ISRO owns in the S-band.

The Cabinet approved the building of these two satellites — GSAT-6 for Rs 269 crore and GSAT-6A for Rs 147 crore — in 2009. The cost of the launch of satellites was to be Rs 350 crore. Interestingly, the Cabinet was not informed that these two satellites were meant to be used by Devas, a fact admitted by ISRO. ...


http://www.indianexpress.com/news/antrix-exisro-chief-madhavan-nair-banned-from-future-govt-job/903724/0
Riaz Haq said…
Rs4.7bn allotted for Suparco projects

https://www.dawn.com/news/1404547

In a bid to reduce dependence on foreign satellites for civil and military purposes, Pakistan plans to launch an aggressive space programme during the next fiscal year by initiating several projects.

The budget of the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Organisation (Suparco) for the upcoming fiscal year 2018-19 is Rs4.70 billion which includes Rs2.55bn for three new projects.

The funding includes allocation of Rs1.35bn for Pakistan Multi-Mission Satellite (PakSat- MM1) and the country is also planning to establish Pakistan Space Centre in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad with the allocation of Rs1bn. The third project is establishment of Space Application Research Centre in Karachi with the budget of Rs200 million in 2018-19.

The total cost of PakSat-MM1 is Rs27.57bn and that of the space centres is Rs26.91bn.

These projects are part of several ongoing and upcoming schemes to develop self-reliance capacity and reduce dependence on foreign satellites, mainly the US and French satellites for civil and military communications.

Analysts have stressed that advanced space programme is the need of time not only due to growing demand from the civil communications, including the GPS, mobile telephony and the internet but due to changing scenario in the region also.

“There are two unusual developments in the region effecting the strategic situation — first of all Pakistan has to keep an eye on Indian side and previously their programme had limited quality advancements but now the US has active cooperation with the Indian satellite programme,” Maria Sultan, a defence analyst said.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan pushes for homegrown satellite development
By: Usman Ansari

https://www.defensenews.com/space/2018/05/03/pakistan-pushes-for-homegrown-satellite-development/

Pakistan has launched an ambitious satellite program as part of ongoing efforts to wean itself off dependence on foreign-owned assets for civil and military applications.

Pakistan’s domestic space agency, the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission, or SUPARCO, will receive a budget of just more than $40 million for fiscal 2018-2019.

Of this, some $22 million has been allocated for space centers related to the Pakistan Multi-Mission Satellite in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, plus the establishment of a research center in Karachi.

To get all the news about space and strategic systems delivered to your inbox every month, be sure to sign up for our Military Space Report newsletter.

However, the final cost of all three aspects of the project is reported in local media as being in the region of $470 million.

No response from SUPARCO was forthcoming when asked by Defense News regarding details about foreign cooperation on this endeavor, although existing information on planned remote sensing satellite programs list an electro-optical sensor-equipped satellite, and a synthetic aperture radar-equipped example.

An existing communications satellite partially co-developed in Pakistan, PAKSAT-1R, was launched by China Great Wall Industry Corporation in 2011.

“It is essential for all countries that they free themselves from dependence on U.S.-location satellite programs,” said Brian Cloughley, author, analyst and former Australian defense attache to Islamabad.

“I have no doubt this has been [in] the cards for some time and that the Chinese are helping.”

Defense News previously reported that Pakistan’s military had access to China’s BeiDou satellite navigation system for military applications, which had special implications for the effectiveness of its sea-based deterrent.

Pakistan also has a long-standing satellite development agreement with Turkey, which has its own recently unveiled observation satellite program.

However, at present it is unknown if anything has resulted from this, or if it will be pushed further down the road.

Cloughley believes it would take a long time to come to fruition, making cooperation with China more likely still.

Also, on cost grounds alone for the new program, Cloughley believes it likely that reliance on China will grow.

“The big question about this development is about where the money is to come from. Pakistan’s economic situation is dire, and commitment to such a program will not meet with [International Monetary Fund] approval. The China connection will probably deepen even further,” he said.

Whether China’s satellite technology will meet Pakistan’s requirements is unknown.

Brian Weeden, director of program planning at Secure World Foundation and an expert in space technologies and satellites, is unaware of the details of any satellites China may be building for Pakistan. However, he “would rate China’s technology in these areas as fairly good.”

“They’re not yet as capable as the most advanced American or European commercial technology, let alone the U.S. or European military satellites, but the Chinese technology is rapidly improving,” he said.
Riaz Haq said…
Narendra #Modi says #India will send a manned flight into #space by 2022.

http://time.com/5367753/india-narendra-modi-space/

India will send a manned flight into space by 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Wednesday as part of India’s independence day celebrations.

He said India will become the fourth country after Russia, the United States and China to achieve the feat and its astronaut could be a man or a woman. The space capsule that will transport India’s astronauts was tested a few days earlier.

Rakesh Sharma was the first Indian to travel in space, aboard a Soviet rocket in 1984. As part of its own space program, active since the 1960s, India has launched scores of satellites for itself and other countries and successfully put one in orbit around Mars in 2014.

It hopes to showcase its technological ability to explore the solar system while also using research from space and elsewhere to solve problems at home. The $1 billion-a-year space program has already helped develop satellite, communication and remote-sensing technologies and has been used to gauge underground water levels and predict weather in the country prone to cycles of drought and flood.

India won independence from British colonialists in 1947. Modi’s 80-minute speech, broadcast live from the historic Red Fort in New Delhi, comes months before national elections.

Modi listed his government’s achievements in the past four years in reforming the country’s economy, reducing poverty and corruption. He announced a health insurance scheme for 500 million poor people providing a cover of 500,000 rupees ($7,150) per family a year.

He said India will become a growth engine for the world economy as the “sleeping elephant” has started to run on the back of structural economic reforms.

He said its economy was seen as fragile before 2014 but was now attracting investment. India is the sixth-largest economy in the world and Modi said international institutions see India as giving strength to the world economy for the next three decades.

He said the structural reforms like a national tax replacing various state and local taxes, bankruptcy and insolvency laws, and a crackdown on corruption have helped transform the economy.

Modi became prime minister when his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won a resounding victory in the national elections in 2014. He will seek another 5-year term for his party at elections due by March-April next year.
Riaz Haq said…
Manned #spaceflight is a waste of resources. it makes no sense when robots and virtual reality devices can do the job better, cheaper and safer. #NASA #India #space #Modi #IndiaIndependenceDay https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/outside-the-boardroom/article/Manned-spaceflight-is-a-waste-or-resources-10620435.php?utm_campaign=twitter-premium&utm_source=CMS%20Sharing%20Button&utm_medium=social

Voyaging to Mars has captured the imagination of many Americans and inspired billionaires to talk of interplanetary colonization, but unfortunately, it makes little economic or scientific sense.

My colleague Andrea Rumbaugh reports from SpaceCom that "NASA wants to get people to Mars in the 2030s." While that's a romantic marketing tool to convince the public to pressure Congress to boost NASA's budget, it makes no sense when robots and virtual reality devices can do the job better, cheaper and safer.

Admittedly, this is a raging debate in scientific circles, but one the public needs to join in. There are even some serious questions about the value of the experiments underway on the International Space Station, not to mention the logistical challenge of sending humans on a three-year trip to Mars and back.

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Folks who want to go to space believe that only humans can truly explore, and that machines are a poor substitute. Yet robots are growing so sophisticated, and so capable, that many believe they will exceed human capabilities, just as no human can beat a computer anymore at playing chess, or the much more complex game called Go.

U.S. Air Force pilots on the ground in Nevada fly spy planes all over the world, 24 hours a day. The technology is so good that last year Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter "almost certainly will be, the last manned strike fighter aircraft the Department of the Navy will ever buy or fly."

Virtual reality goggles are also getting very good at giving people the sense of being outside their bodies. The right equipment mounted on a robot on another planet could allow every human on earth with Internet access a chance at feeling like they are on another planet.

So why go the expensive, manned spaceflight route? What often goes unstated is the role of business in lobbying for the most expensive space program possible.

In an era of low defense spending, companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin are looking for new government contracts to boost their bottom line. The Apollo program cost the United States $275 billion in today's dollars, and a single flight of the space shuttle cost $450 million, the main reason the program was discontinued. Boeing and Lockheed made fortunes on the programs.

The Mars Curiosity Rover cost $2.5 billion and is doing great work using fairly dated robotics and sensors. The same mission today could accomplish much more and cost less. In comparison, a manned mission to Mars is conservatively estimated to cost $100 billion. NASA could send 40 robots to many planets for the price of one manned trip to Mars.

NASA supporters like to talk about the technological benefits of spin-off technology. And that's perhaps the most compelling argument for sending robots and using virtual reality instead of sending humans. Both technologies have broad application in earth's economy, ranging from virtual trips to the Amazon to self-driving cars.

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