Antrix, the commercial and marketing entity of ISRO, responsible for commercial exploitation of space products, technical consultancy services and transfer of technologies developed by ISRO, has made profits worth ₹896 crores ($140 Million) in last 5 years. The information was made public by Jeetendra Singh, Union Minister for Science and Technology, in response to a question raised in RajyaSabha.
According to the details, in 2010-2011, Antrix earned a total profit of ₹138.86 crore, ₹170.98 crore in 2011-12, ₹177.07 in 2012-13, ₹200.50 in 2013-14 and ₹205.10 until now in 2014-15. This can be majorly credited to the various launches of foreign satellites successfully completed by ISRO in last five years (45 foreign satellites till date).
Some of the major satellites launched by ISRO in recent times include the latest 5 UK satellites launch by PSLV-C28 which was the heaviest satellite launch undertaken by ISRO and another launch of 5 satellites including French SPOT-7 by PSLV-C23 last year and satellites of Canada, Germany and Singapore.
While ISRO is certainly making its presence felt in space industry all over the world with its highly successful Mars Orbitor Mission and successful testing of indigenous cryogenic engine, it is still way behind its international counterparts. For instance, as opposed to the $100 million made by ISRO (and not profit) in last 8 years, Arianespace, a French company and the most dominant player in the commercial space launch market reported revenues of €1.399 and a €3 million profit just last year.
However, more and more nations are getting to ISRO, for lighter satellite launches, most recently the US, for the commercial space launch of their satellites. Again, this is largely due to PSLV’s massive success in the past decade or so.
A major reason behind this wide gap is the fact, that most of the foreign satellites launched by ISRO are light satellites (less than 1600 Kg) and as per the industry reports, 80% of revenues from satellite launches come from heavy satellites. The success of PSLVs in launching satellites less than 1500 Kgs have made them an international choice for a wide range of telecommunication and scientific space missions.
To successfully launch heavy satellites, ISRO relies on Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicles (GSLV) on which it has been working for past two decades. After 3 failures, the space organisation gained success for the first time last year, since the first launch in 2001. This was even more significant due to the fact that it was achieved using India’s first indigenous cryogenic engine.
So, it may still be a long road before GSLVs become commercially acceptable choice for foreign heavy satellites and taste success like PSLVs, but given the recent achievements of ISRO and India’s focused efforts on developing satellite and space technology, only sky is the limit ( or not..! ) for India to become a major force in satellite launches and space exploration.