BANGALORE, India — India expects to spend 67 billion rupees ($1.3 billion) on government space activities in the coming budget year — about 50 percent more than it ended up spending during the preceding 12 months, according to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) spokesman S. Satish.

While ISRO was allotted 66 billion rupees for the 2011-2012 budget year now ending, the agency spent just over 44 billion rupees as a result of various projects getting off to a slower start than anticipated, Satish said.

India’s spending plan for the coming year’s space activities was outlined in budget documents Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee delivered March 16 to parliament. India’s 2012-2013 budget year begins April 1.

Nearly a third of India’s space budget, or 23.1 rupees, will go to ISRO’s launch vehicle program.

The second biggest budget allotment, 12.2 billion rupees, will go to the Indian National Satellite System, a series of multipurpose geostationary satellites hosting telecommunications, broadcasting, meteorology and search and rescue payloads.

India’s remaining space budget for the year ahead comprises:

  • 12 billion rupees for Satellite Technology.
  • 7.6 billion rupees for Space Applications.
  • 5.6 billion rupees for Launch Support, Tracking Network and Range Facility.
  • 4.72 billion rupees for Space Sciences.
  • 1.9 billion rupees for miscellaneous other programs.

Some 1 billion rupees of the new funding  will go to the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology for training future ISRO scientists and engineers, and another 1.5 billion rupees is earmarked for the development of a semi-cryogenic engine that will burn kerosene fuel instead of liquid hydrogen.

The budget also includes 1.25 billion rupees for the Mars Orbiter Mission that ISRO intends to launch in November 2013 aboard India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.

The spacecraft will be placed in an orbit of 500 kilometers by 80,000 kilometers around Mars and will carry up to 25 kilograms of scientific payload, according to ISRO documents accompanying the budget presented to the Parliament.

India’s space budget also includes funding for continued development of a follow-on to the Chandrayan-1 lunar orbiter, which in mid-2009 shut down less than a year into its planned two-year mission. Chandrayan-2 is expected to launch during the 2013-2014 budget year, according to the documents.

India also plans to spend more than 600 million rupees for early work on a Crew Module System that the ISRO budget documents described as a “fully autonomous orbital vehicle” capable of carrying two or three crew members to a 275-kilometer orbit and return them safely to Earth. The Crew Module System is being funded as part of a broader 1.45 billion rupee investment in human spaceflight capabilities, Minister of State V. Narayanasamy told Parliament March 21. The program also includes 270 million rupees for man-rating India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, 360 million rupees for study contracts with national and international institutions and 210 million rupees for miscellaneous other activities, including aerodynamics research and mission studies.

India had planned to cap the current budget year, which ends March 31, with the launch of a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle carrying ISRO’s first microwave remote sensing satellite, Risat, but that launch has slipped into April.

Three other Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle missions are planned through March 2013: launch of an Indo-French satellite dubbed Saral that will measure ocean wave heights; the first Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System spacecraft; and a commercial satellite.

ISRO plans to launch a total of seven regional navigation satellites to provide GPS-like services to a region extending up to 1,500 kilometers from India, Satish said.



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Based in Bangalore, Killugudi S. Jayaraman holds a doctorate in nuclear physics from the University of Maryland and a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He was formerly science editor of the...