Isro Aided by India’s Entry into Elite Club
MTCR, which allows access to better testing technology, speeding up satellite launches
New Delhi: Here’s the not-so-well-known reason behind Indian Space Research Organisation’s recent and immensely successful run. Isro, which launched a world-record 104 satellites at one go on Wednesday, has been able to upgrade its efforts thanks to India’s recent entry into an elite global club — the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
Senior officials who are working on improving Isro’s commercial satellite launch prospects spoke off record and briefed ET on the details. An Isro official, who requested anonymity, told ET that the agency “doesn’t speak about these things”. India joined MTCR in June 2016, and thanks to that, New Delhi has access to high-end testing technology for its solid rocket booster propulsion system, which fires up the first stage of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
Testing this system was a slow process until now with limited technology access. Many key components to upgrade the technology were in controlled items lists under MTCR due to their dual military use. Since India’s MTCR membership in June 2016, four PSLVs have been launched including the one on Wednesday. Faster testing of the solid rocket booster means the period between two launches is reduced. With frequency of launches going up, more commercial payloads can be carried.
Officials said access to MTCR’s controlled items has led to major efforts in making India a bigger player in the $300-billion satellite launch market.
In 2016, India did six PSLV launches — twice the number in 2015. Overall, Isro launches 8-12 big satellites in a year. The plan is to raise this to 18-24 in the coming years, a senior official told ET. Wednesday’s launch of 104 satellites included a majority of nano, or very small, satellites.
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