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The competition heats up: For the first time India’s space agency ISRO has signed a deal with a private consortium of private companies to have them build satellites.
The contract signed on Friday includes assembly, integration and testing (AIT) of two spare navigation satellites consecutively in around 18 months. It was signed between M. Annadurai, Director of ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC), and the consortium lead, Alpha Design Technologies P Ltd. ISAC assembles the country’s satellites for communication, remote sensing and navigation.
From the third year, Indian industry could expect competitive bids for a new lot of spacecraft of 300-500-kg class, perhaps five a year, for both ISRO and for export, Col. H.S. Shankar (retd), CMD of Alpha Design, told The Hindu. This is the first time that ISRO has outsourced an entire satellite to industry, said Col. Shankar .
The Modi government appears to be trying here to emulate NASA in putting private companies in charge of construction, rather than having things designed and built in-house by ISRO. This is a very good sign. If they do it now, in the early days of their space effort, they can reduce ISRO’s ability to grow into a large bureaucracy with its own vested interests.