India is lining up international customers for its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) as the country looks to boost its share of the global launch market.
Antrix Corp., the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), has signed an agreement with Singapore Technologies Electronics Ltd. to launch its first commercial satellite, TeLEOS-1.
The satellite, weighing about 400 kg (880 lb.), will be launched by the PSLV into a near-equatorial orbit at an altitude of 550 km (342 mi.), to take images for maritime security and shipping, an ISRO official says. It will be equipped with an electro-optical camera capable of capturing images with ground resolution of one meter.
“It [TeLEOS-1] is in the final stages of development,” the official confirms. The spacecraft is expected to be launched by the end of 2015, and the imagery from the satellite will be available in the first half of 2016.
Singapore launched its first experimental satellite, XSAT, in April 2011 with ISRO’s assistance.
ISRO’s marketing arm has also reached an understanding with a British company to launch its three disaster-monitoring satellites, as well as concluded a contract to launch an 800-kg German satellite, the EnMAP (Environmental Mapping and Analysis Program), scheduled for launch in 2015.
The ISRO official says details of the satellites – including their weight, instruments to be taken onboard and their location in polar orbit – will be worked out in the next few months.
At the moment, ISRO is working toward launching SPOT 7, a French satellite, on board the PSLV with four micro-satellites by April.
The Indian PSLV placed the French SPOT 6 Earth observation satellite into orbit on Sept. 8, 2012. SPOT is a high-resolution optical-imaging Earth-observation satellite constellation operated by the French space agency.
To date, ISRO has launched 65 satellites and spacecraft, including 30 Indian and 35 foreign satellites, into a variety of orbits. Last year, the space agency launched its Mars Orbiter Mission, which is currently on its journey to the red planet.
On Jan. 5 India entered the multibillion dollar commercial launcher market with the successful liftoff of an advanced communication GSAT-14 satellite aboard its heavier Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, fitted with an indigenous cryogenic engine.