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’s PSLV has turned into a money-spinner for the space agency as forex brought by the country’s mainstay rocket increased by Rs 90 crore from Rs 232.56 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 324 crore in 2018-19 fiscal year.
Isro has earned Rs 1,245 crore during the last five years by launching foreign satellites from 26 countries. Key contracts with 10 countries — the US, the UK, Germany, Canada, Singapore, The
, Malaysia, Algeria and
— were signed in the last five years under commercial arrangements.
In financial years before 2017-18, the annual revenue figures just hovered around Rs 200-crore-plus mark. In 2016-17, it was Rs 208 crore, Rs 227 crore in 2015-16 and Rs 252 crore in 2014-15.
The information was provided to the Rajya Sabha in a written reply by Union minister for department of space Jitendra Singh in the just-concluded winter session. Though Isro’s market share in the global satellite launch market is less than 2%, PSLV has carved a niche for itself in the small satellite launch market and bringing in big moolah for the country.
Since May 26, 1999, when the first foreign satellite was launched by India, PSLV has till now launched 319 foreign satellites. Of the 319 satellites, which did not weigh more than 445kg, around 279 were launched in the last five years.
Keeping in mind the big market for small satellites, Isro has developed the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) or mini-PSLV, whose maiden test-flight is due in the first quarter of 2020.
In fact, the second demonstration test (D2) of SSLV has already been booked for carrying an American payload. The “vehicle-on-demand” SSLV can be assembled in just 3-5 days as compared to 30-40 days for a normal-size rocket and made in just one-tenth the cost of a PSLV. In 2018, 322 small satellites were launched globally through 44 launches, according to SpaceNews.
And the market witnessed a 23% compound annual growth rate from 2009 to 2018. According to a new market intelligence report by BIS Research, the global small satellite market generated a revenue of $513 million in 2018 and is expected to reach $2.9 billion by 2030 as over 17,000 small satellites are expected to be launched. Currently, US private space company Elon Musk-promoted Space X holds the lion’s share of the market.