New Delhi: For the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), this has been a remarkable year. It took two launches to make it so. The first, in February, set the startling record of the maximum satellites injected into orbit by a single launch, 104—a tremendous leap from the previous record of 37.
The second, in June, was the first successful launch of India’s heaviest, most powerful rocket, GSLV Mark III, developed entirely at home, through more than 15 years of patient work. GSLV is short for Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle.
Beyond the usual registers of ingenuity, scientific progress and national pride that space programmes evoke, these launches marked a strictly business-oriented milestone: It announced the ambitions of Antrix Corp. Ltd, Isro’s fledgling commercial arm, of becoming a serious contender in the $335.5 billion global space industry, and part of a new space race that is poised for take-off.
“In the next five years, the growth in space will be mind-boggling,” says Rakesh Sasibhushan, Antrix’s chairman and managing director. “It will change the way we do things and the kind of technology we will be able to put in space.”
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