ISRO’s commercial arm to launch its first demand-based communications satellite next year


NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), the newly formed commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), will assemble its first demand-based communications satellite for DTH satellite television service provider Tata Sky.

The GSAT-24, a 4000 kg class Ku-band satellite with all repeaters dedicated to DTH services, will be launched by Ariane-5 from Arianespace in Europe early next year. “All of the satellite capacity onboard GSAT-24 will be leased to its engaged customer M / s Tata Sky to meet its DTH application needs,” a statement from the NSIL said Friday.

The satellite will be owned and operated by NSIL, which will also be the intermediary agency between ISRO, Arianespace and Tata Sky.

NSIL, which was established to commercialize ISRO’s research and capabilities, seeks to become an Indian communications satellite operator by purchasing ISRO’s satellites to provide DTH and broadband services to customers at the demand.

In March of this year, officials at NSIL – incorporated in 2019 – said two deals were underway with a DTH operator and a broadband service provider in India.

NSIL officials had said on March 12 that it would take over two communications satellites to be launched by ISRO and is in talks with the Space Department to take over ISRO’s communications satellite fleet. “Soon, NSIL will finalize the requirements for the new satellites in consultation with various users and begin purchasing, owning, launching and providing services, primarily in the communications sector. We are also at an advanced stage of discussions with DoS to take possession of two new communications satellites, ”said NSIL President and MD G Narayanan.

“NSIL now has a much greater responsibility for owning satellites – which is to identify a satellite, launch it and own it to provide services. This is a major service that NSIL seeks to provide. This will make us a kind of satellite operator ”, then declared its director (technical and strategy) D Radhakrishnan.

The move is a change from the existing policy whereby repeaters on communications satellites are leased to customers such as DTH service providers through ISRO’s controversial commercial arm, Antrix Corporation, which has now started to take a back seat. Antrix Corporation has previously courted controversies over deals in which satellites were dedicated to providing communications services to companies like Bengaluru startup Devas Multimedia Pvt Ltd.

In an ongoing legal battle with Indian authorities in the United States, Devas Multimedia has alleged that NSIL was created to replace Antrix Corporation in order to circumvent liabilities arising from indemnifications awarded against Antrix Corporation by international arbitration tribunals for failure. by Devas Multimedia-Antrix in 2005. satellite agreement.

The decision to get NSIL to own and operate ISRO communications satellites is an effort to maximize the benefits of satellite launches and to allow ISRO to focus on “cutting edge research and development. NSIL officials said.

“Previously we were supply driven and now we are demand driven and the bottom line is that there should be an identified customer who is going to make full use of the satellite capacity and there should be good profitability. We want to ensure maximum use of a satellite, ”said the head of NSIL.

Narayanan said the new company is also in talks with the space department to take over all existing ISRO communications satellites. “We are in talks to take back all 26 of them,” he said. While the demand for satellites for DTH services comes from providers like TataSky, Sun Direct, etc., the demand for satellites for broadband services comes from Indian telecom operators, NSIL officials said.

After successfully securing its first agreement for the launch of a commercial satellite on February 28, 2021 – the Brazilian Amazonia-1 satellite aboard ISRO’s PSLV rocket – NSIL will have four more commercial launches over the next two years , NSIL said in March. The company has been allocated a budget of Rs 700 crore for the next five years to become a leading space services provider, officials said.


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