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India’s Antrix Corporation Sets Out Business Case For ISRO’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle

The launch of India’s SCATSAT-1, as well as seven other satellites including three Algerian ones, captured on camera as it was launched on 26 September 2016 from India. Image courtesy of NTV.

The Chief Managing Director of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) commercial arm, the Antrix Corporation, has stated that the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) currently under development will significantly reduce launch costs for small satellites compared to other Indian launch vehicles, and will see a rise in Antrix’ revenues over the coming years.

ISRO’s SSLV was announced the other week as India seeks to exploit the small satellite launch market over the coming decades. A recent survey by Euroconsult, a leading space consultancy company, has estimated that the next decade will likely see over 7,000 small satellites – such as CubeSats and nanosatellites – requiring launch into orbit.

The SSLV will be able to loft payloads up to 700 kilograms up to altitudes of 500 kilometres in low-Earth orbit (LEO) and, according to Antrix, can be integrated and prepared for launch within 72 hours. This would make the SSLV not only a commercial competitor in the crowded small satellite launch market, but also could conceivably provide India with a responsive satellite launch capability.

“ISRO has been developing the SSLV and it is expected to be cleared by next year. Once the test is complete, they have agreed to transfer the technology to Antrix,” Rakesh Sasibhushan, the Antix Corporation’s top executive, told the Press Trust of India (PTI) in an interview.

Rakesh also said that Antrix is looking to set a very competitive rate for SSLV launches, and believes that it will result in a significant increase in revenues. “We are aiming to hit it at a much lower cost than the PSLV. With the introduction of the SSLV, we are also looking at a large increase in our revenues,” he said.

Rakesh claims that Antrix has earned the equivalent of approximately U.S.$77,700,000 in revenues over the last three years.

Antrix is eyeing the European, North America, and Southeast Asian small satellite markets for prospective SSLV launch clients, and is particularly bullish about the U.S. small satellite sector.

“The decision of the US to deregulate small and micro satellites has given a fillip to our business. Our revenues and launch services have increased. We are also looking at a large increase in the next few years in the launch service markets,” he said.

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