Deregulation imperative for space sector growth, asserts ISRO chairman Somanath

Deregulation imperative for space sector growth, asserts ISRO chairman Somanath

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 25 (PTI) ISRO Chairman S Somanath on Saturday emphasised the necessity of deregulating unnecessary controls in the space sector to foster improved growth.

He also attributed India's significant progress in the space industry to the opening up of the sector.

Speaking to media here during the celebration of 60 years since India's first sounded rocket launch, Somanath highlighted that the involvement of the private sector in space science development has led to remarkable expansion in India's satellite-building capabilities.

'Earlier, it was only ISRO for the development and production of satellites, launch vehicles, and related technologies. ISRO has only 17,000 people and a budget of Rs 13,000 crore. It remained so for all these years,' Somanath said.

He said that India now has more than 130 startups in the space sector, with some companies boasting a workforce of 400 to 500 employees and a turnover ranging from Rs 500 to 1000 crores.

'Some of them are paying better salaries than ISRO, and the scientists retired from ISRO are in great demand. In fact, these companies are waiting for people who are retiring from ISRO,' Somanath said.

The ISRO chief further said that India has the potential to become an excellent hub for satellite manufacturing and could significantly expand its presence in the business.

'Technology development and progress in space science are all fine, but business is important. It has to bring money,' he noted.

Currently, there are five Indian companies with the capability to manufacture satellites, and three of them have successfully manufactured and launched their satellites from foreign countries, he pointed out.

'We don't want them to launch their satellites from outside, and we want them to use our facilities. We want them to build satellites here; they can bring in the technologies from wherever they want, but build them here and launch them from here.' He clarified that the expansion of the private sector in space science does not imply a reduction in ISRO's role.

'ISRO will continue to do what it does at present. We are now talking about sending men into space. ISRO will continue to strategise and grow. This is not scaling down, but scaling up,' Somanath said.

He said that the GSLV rocket has undergone regular upgrades, demonstrating its capability to carry a higher payload than its original design specifications.

'GSLV was designed to carry 4 tonnes of payload, but we have already successfully launched a 7.5-tonne payload. Its cryogenic stage is also being upgraded. In the semi-cryogenic stage, the new SE 120 is being developed,' Somanath said.

He mentioned that the PSLV, which initially had a payload capacity of 850 kg, now boasts a payload capacity of two tonnes. PTI KPK TGB ROH

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