Isro Aided by In­dia’s En­try into Elite Club

MTCR, which al­lows ac­cess to bet­ter test­ing tech­nol­ogy, speed­ing up satel­lite launches

The Economic Times - - Front Page - Pran­abDhal.Sa­manta@ times­group.com

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.

ROCK­ET­ING INTO RECORD BOOKS AFP

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