The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has transferred key space technology to two private companies within a week’s time.
The transfer was made through NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of ISRO.
The Indian Mini Satellite-1 (IMS-1) bus technology was transferred first to Bengaluru-based Alpha Design Technologies on Friday, 4 August, and then to Hyderabad-based Dhruva Space on Wednesday, 9 August.
These developments marked the start of the transfer of ISRO-developed satellite bus technology to private industry.
Developed by the UR Rao Satellite Centre, the IMS-1 bus, weighing about 100 kg, is a small satellite platform that enables low-cost access to space with a quick turnaround time and a nominal mission life of two years.
The platform accommodates payloads of up to 30 kg for earth imaging, ocean and atmospheric studies, microwave remote sensing, and space science missions, an NSIL note says.
The IMS-1 bus was previously used in such ISRO missions as IMS-1, Youthsat, and Microsat-2D.
“By transferring the IMS-1 technology to the private sector, ISRO/DoS aims to bolster India's industrial growth in the space sector and foster technological self-reliance,” ISRO said.
“The development opens up new avenues for private players to contribute to space research and exploration, in line with India's vision to expand its presence in the global space market,” the space agency added.
Both Alpha Design Technologies and Dhruva Space were picked for this technology transfer through the medium of the interest exploratory note published by NSIL in March 2022.
Receiving this technology means that the two companies will not have to build the platform by themselves from scratch or have to approach a foreign agency or company for it, thereby saving greatly on costs and acquiring crucial knowledge and expertise.
Alpha Design Technologies specialises in research and development, manufacture, assembly, testing, qualification, integration, and installation of defence electronics, avionics, and space satellite systems.
Alpha Tocol Engineering Services, a fully owned subsidiary of Alpha Design Technologies, manufactured the crew module fairing that will be used in the Gaganyaan space mission.
The crew module fairing protects the crew module carrying the Gaganyaan astronauts.
Dhruva Space is a space technology company focused on building full-stack space engineering solutions, meaning they offer end-to-end space services across the build, launch, and operate segments.
They build satellite platforms and subsystems, facilitate space launches, and offer ground station solutions.
The award-winning startup tested and space-qualified its satellite orbital deployer (DSOD-1U) and its 0.5U cubesat in July 2022, setting the stage to build satellites for their clients as well as to launch their own.
Dhruva then launched Thybolt 1 and 2 amateur radio (ham radio) communication nanosatellites on the polar satellite launch vehicle mission PSLV-C54 on 26 November 2022.
NSIL, a Central public sector enterprise under the Department of Space, is given the mandate to transfer space technologies developed by the Department of Space and ISRO to public and private sector entities so that the benefits of the space programme are extended to the industry.
The agency lists nine major technologies, comprising as many as 65 subsystems, which are available for transfer to the industry. The IMS-1 bus technology is one of them.
Karan Kamble writes on science and technology. He occasionally wears the hat of a video anchor for Swarajya's online video programmes.
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