Isro’s satellite launcher turns into money-spinner

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Indian Space Research Organization’s rockstar Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), known for its exemplary track record of launching 209 satellites of 28 countries till now, is turning into a money-spinner for the space agency.On June 23 this year, PSLV-C38 had launched 712-kg Cartosat-2 satellite along with 30 co-passenger satellites. Of the 30 nano satellites, while one belonged to Noorul Islam University from Tamil Nadu, the rest 29 were from 14 foreign countries. On Wednesday, the government informed the Lok Sabha that the launch of 29 foreign satellites helped Antrix Corporation Ltd (ACL), the commercial and marketing arm of Isro, earn Rs 45 crore (6.1 million euros).

Before the June 23 multiple launch, Isro made the world record when its PSLV C37 launched 104 satellites in one go on February 15 this year. However, the space agency did not reveal how much it earned from that record-breaking launch. Out of the 104 satellites, 96 were from the US, three from India and one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UAE . Lauching satellites is fast becoming a competitive industry – several companies like SpaceX’s Falcon 9, Russia’s Proton ULA, and Arianespace are big names in the space.

But Antrix’s competitive rates and Isro’s expertise in launching nano satellites are helping the country woo foreign customers.When a country wants to launch an expensive satellite, it wants to be sure that its spacecraft will reach the orbit successfully. A failed launch is not only wastage of money, but time and efforts too. With over 200 successful foreign satellite launches (since 1999) to its credit, PSLV’s proven record is a good reason for countries to trust Isro.Not only satellite launches, even Isro’s interplanetary missions are cheaper than that of foreign space agencies like NASA. India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), which was launched in 2014.

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