Tuesday, November 3, 2009

ISRO to outsource rocket-work to private companies

After the success of India's maiden unmanned moon mission, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is ready to outsource more high-end work to private companies - everything from building more complicated systems to assembling it.

According to aerospace industry officials and others familiar with the discussions, proposals are being readied wherein private participation will be invited to build and run competing systems, reports Economic Times.

The commercial-aerospace industry is now eager to play a larger role in the space missions and tap the outsourcing work offered by ISRO, which has an annual budget of $1.01 billion for 2009-2010. It has a spending blueprint of Rs. 12,400 crore ($3 billion) for its manned space exploration and around Rs. 425 crore will be spent for the second unmanned lunar mission - Chandrayaan-2. It also has huge spending plans for missions to Mars and various domestic and international satellite launches.

This is particularly relevant as India has now stepped up the number of satellites it sends into space. ISRO's Senior Space Scientist George Koshy who had also worked on Chandrayaan-1 as Mission Director for PSLV says, "Earlier, we used to do one launch in two-three years. Now, we do tree-five PSLV launches alone in a year. For that, we need more low-cost manpower and better collaborations." Koshy says that the confidence other countries are reposing on Indian capability to make good satellites is increasing and they need more private partners to share the work load. "We work at just 15-20 percent of the cost spent by the U.S. on their missions," he says.

Koshy said ISRO will launch advanced remote sensing and earth observation satellites such as Cartosat along with three other satellites from countries like Algeria and Canada in the Q1 of 2010 and Resourcesat-2, which will monitor resources in the country next year.

The aerospace ompanies like Taneja Aerospace and Aviation (Taal), which counts ISRO among its top customers said that it is seeing more high-end work coming to them.

SM Kapoor, CEO (Aerostructures) of Taal, said that it had developed a critical structure to be used in Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) to ISRO last week. This structure was instrumental in taking the load of the vehicle and connecting the various stages of the PSLV.

"Earlier, we outsourced smaller work, but now we have stepped up the complexity of the work outsourced to private firms. In space structures, we have got very little margins. One small error or a small weakness in one part can result in the failure of the whole mission," says Koshy.

ISRO's Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) Deputy Director PP Sinha stated that outsourcing has reached a level where companies are even doing assembling work at the system and stage levels and not just at the component level.

"We are moving up the value chain and gearing up to provide avionics and electronics to customers like ISRO. They are efficient in terms of on-time payment and business support," said CS Kameswaran, Managing Director, Taal.

Wipro has said it is in discussions with ISRO to provide software and electronics for projects like the Chandrayaan-2 mission.

"We are in discussions with ISRO to collaborate in the area of robotic design, as they plan to land a motorised rover or robot on the Moon by 2013. We are present in the software, product engineering and R&D spaces and now Wipro is gearing up to be ready in aerospace manufacturing by 2010," said Shiva Kumar Tonthanahal, Vice President, Aerospace amnd Defence, Wipro.

The people familiar with ISRO's outsourcing strategy said that technology firms like TCS and Infosys are talking to ISRO to provide their engineering design services.

Larsen & Toubro (L&T), India's biggest engineering company, said that it is making significant contributions to ISRO's space launch vehicles. "We had started by making small components. Today, the complete motor is built by us which includes it testing. We will be making significant contributions to the development of ISRO's next 20 satellites," says Jayant D Patil, Vice President, L&T. The company had made significant contributions in the development of the last 15 satellites

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails