NewSpace India, the government’s commercial space arm, plans to invest ₹10,000 crore over the next five years to own and operate satellites as well as launch rockets, its top officials said.
It is also in talks with the country’s space agency to acquire its fleet of remote sensing and communication satellites, they said.
“We will invest ₹2,000 crore per year for the next five years,” said D Radhakrishnan, director — Technical & Strategy, NSIL on Friday. NSIL is in talks with parent Department of Space to own and operate two new communication satellites for which an Indian telecom operator as well as a Direct-to-Home provider has signed up as customers. The company did not disclose the names of the customers.
The public sector enterprise has also floated a request for proposal to five Indian firms to build the workhorse polar satellite launch vehicle and expects to close the vendor in five months, Radhakrishnan said. The initial order would be for five PSLV rockets. NSIL is also drawing up a requirement for new satellites in consultation with various users and start procuring, owning, launching and providing services, primarily in the communication sector, NSIL chairman G Narayanan said.
NSIL was formed as a government-run entity to offer commercial services to clients globally as well as local customers. It will also collaborate with Indian rocket startups to offer launch services to small satellite customers across the world.
The government is setting up Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (In-Space) as a regulator to ensure a level playing field for the private space technology firms in the country.
NSIL has won four contracts to launch remote sensing satellites on both the PSLV as well as the upcoming small satellite launch vehicle. SSLV, a rocket that is designed to hurl satellites of less than 500 kg into low-earth orbits, is expected to make its first launch later this year.
NSIL launched its first dedicated commercial mission on February 28, orbiting Brazilian satellite Amazonia-1 from Sriharikota spaceport of the Indian Space Research Organisation.
India’s PSLV rocket has emerged as among the most competitive rockets globally and has launched over 342 satellites, majority of them small and nano satellites, from 34 countries, with 80% of all small satellites being from the United States.