India OKs Budget for Building, Launching 15 PSLV Rockets by 2020

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PARIS — The Indian government’s Union Cabinet on May 21 approved a budget of $484 million to build and launch 15 PSLV rockets between 2017 and 2020, meeting a demand for 4-5 launches per year “with the possibility of clinching commercial launch service contracts,” according to the office of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.

The budget of 30.9 billion Indian rupees covers the vehicles’ production, program management and the launch campaigns. The rocket has completed 25 operational missions. In addition to carrying Indian government science, navigation and Earth observation satellites, the vehicle has won commercial business from outside India.

Commercial customers have included included government and commercial operators from Europe, Canada, Algeria and, most recently, from the United States. Skybox Imaging of Mountain View, California, owned by Google Inc., won a waiver from the long-standing U.S. ban on commercial launches from India to launch one of its optical Earth imaging satellites on the PSLV.

The most recent launch, PSLV-C27, was successfully conducted in March, placing an Indian regional positioning, navigation and timing satellite into an inclined geostationary orbit. The 15-rocket order approved May 21 is for launches numbered C-36 to C-50.

The prime minister’s statement said the 15-rocket PSLV order would place “a greater focus on enhancing the level of participation by the Indian industry. PSLV has made the country self-reliant in launching satellites for Earth observation, disaster management, navigation and space sciences.”