Strengthening of the position – successful launch of Indian Astrosat satellite on 28th September 2015

ISRO announced that planned on 28th September 2015 launch of Astrosat satellite combined with six additional foreign satellites was full success. Utilized rocket was PSLV rocket in heaviest version. Mission designated launch site was First Launch Pad in Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

India has still growing space industry and space research program. In spite of tradition of using space technologies for development of national economy, India is offering launch services for foreign customers. Example of mission when ISRO offered possibility of combined launch with their satellite had place on 28th Septenber 2015 . In spite of Indian satellite Astrosat, PSLV lifted six satellites for Indonesia (Lapan-A2), Canada (NLS-14) and USA (four LEMUR nano satellites). Lapan-A2 is based on Lapan-Tubsat, observation satellite equipped with improved video camera and electronic systems helping in identifying ships on Indonesian territorial waters. NLS-14 (EV9) satellite, built by Space Flight Laboratory of University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies is observation satellite designed for maritime monitoring. It will support Automatic Identification System. AIS provides possibility of identifying and locating vessels utilizing electronical data exchange with other ships, satellites and base transponders. Lemur satellites are manufactured by Spire Global Inc. utilizing CubeSat standard and consumer electronics for cost reducing. With target constellation of fifty satellites, Spire will offer support of AIS system to help preventing illegal fishing and piracy and helping in trade monitoring, asset tracking, search and rescue missions.  Planned orbit life for Lemur is two years. The project involves interesting fact - part of the funds for the construction of satellites, the company has gathered through Kickstarter. In comparison to additional payload, Astrosat is real giant. With weight at 1650 kg, payload capacity at 1513 kg and operational lifespan at 5 years is serious solution for astronomy research. Developing since 2004 in cooperation between Indian (Indian Space Research Organization, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore Raman Research Institute, Bangalore Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai S.N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Kolkata), Canadian (Canadian Space Agency) and British (University of Leicester) research centers. Main aim of Astrosat is gathering data from multi-wavelength observations. Following scientific instruments are on board: Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UVIT) for combined imaging (possible in three channels 130–180 nm, 180–300 nm, and 320–530 nm), Soft X-ray imaging Telescope (SXT) based on CCD camera adopted for imaging in X-ray in the 0.3–8.0 keV band, LAXPC instrument for spectral studies in low resolution, hard X-ray imager called Cadmium Zinc Telluride Imager (CZTI), Scanning Sky Monitor (SSM) with three position sensitive proportional counters and Charged Particle Monitor (CPM) providing from jamming due the flying through South Atlantic Anomaly. Satellite will be controlled from  ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bangalore, India. During every visible pass on Bangalore, downlink and sending commands will be possible.

ISRO utilized in this mission their Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. It was designed in the beginning on nineties in Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre. Maiden flight of PSLV took place on 20 September 1993. Since then PSLV was used during 87 satellites launches. It was also utilized in significant missions such launching India's first lunar probe Chandrayaan-1. PSLV has four stages and combined, liquid and solid fueled propulsion. Depending on capacity of booster's tanks, PSLV could be on standard or enhanced configuration (called XL). Boosters are solid fueled and offering thrust at 510 kN or 719 kN with bigger tanks in XL version. First stage is powered by one of the biggest solid fueled engine ever built called S139 with thrust at 4800 kN. Second stage is powered by one Vikas engine, liquid fueled, with thrust at 799 kN. Third stage is powered by solid fueled S7 engine delivering thrust at 240 kN. Fourth stage is equipped with two L-2-5 engines ( 7.4 kN of thrust per engine). Rocket has height at 44 m, diameter at 2.8 and weigh in XL version 320000kg. Offers payload to LEO missions at 3,250 kg, for SSO 1,750 kg and for sub GTO missions at 1425 kg.

ISRO is research organization and its primary goal is not business oriented. But in last years, contribute of commercial launches increased significantly. As far as PSLV is concerned for 87 launches, 51 were for foreign customers. Most of launched satellites were up to 10 kg of weight. Most of customers are from Canada and EU with LEO and GTO mission. For GTO missions, ISRO designed GSLV launch vehicle based on reliable PSLV. It is utilizing upgraded engines and offers payload capability for GTO at 2500 kg. So far success rate is not impressive - it is at 50 % level. According some source ISRO offers prices for launch at around 75 % of prices of competitive agencies. One launch of GLV costs around $ 36 million, in case of Falcon-9 1.1V cost is around $61 million. ISRO seems competitive in market of launch services dedicated for nano and small satellites. Being still not experienced player on the market, ISRO is acquiring new customers and stabilizing its position as reliable and low cost launch service provider.