ISRO Gets Boost in Annual Budget

by

BANGALORE, India — India plans to substantially increase its space spending for the second year in a row with new funding allocated for development of a kerosene-powered rocket engine and a communications satellite incorporating advanced technologies.

India’s annual budget, released by the Indian Parliament Feb. 16, allocates 44.59 billion rupees ($924 million) for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The 27 percent increase comes on the heels of a 24 percent increase the space agency received for 2008.

Formal adoption of the budget, which funds ISRO and other Indian government agencies from April 1, 2009, through March 2010, was expected around the end of February.

Some 750 million rupees of ISRO’s budget will be spent on development of a kerosene engine program that budget documents released Feb. 16 said would be aimed at developing and qualifying “a high thrust semi-cryogenic engine and stage” for use on a “future advanced launch vehicle.”

No details about the new communications satellite were offered beyond that the project would receive 50 million rupees in the year ahead and incorporate technologies “of relevance for [the] future.”

This year’s extra funding includes 620 million rupees for a space capsule re-entry experiment and other activities supporting ISRO’s goal of sending two men to space by 2015. It also includes 900 million rupees for continuing to operate the Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter and developing Chandrayaan-2, a follow-on mission planned for 2012.

Parliament provided 1.75 billion rupees for the Institute of Space Science and Technology, which started recruiting students last September, and a 1.2 billion rupee budget increase for the VikramSarabhai Space Centre. Total funding for ISRO’s flagship facility, located in Thiruvananthapuram, will top 4.4 billion rupees.

According to ISRO spokesman S. Satish, the space agency’s nearly 46 billion rupee budget covers the cost of six launches planned between now and March 2010.

The first flight of a Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) using a cryogenic stage built in India is targeted for testing during 2009-2010. It will launch a geostationary satellite called GSAT-4 – the first of many satellites planned for a geo-based navigation system. Another GSLV to be launched this year will place a dedicated weather satellite dubbed Insat-3D in orbit. ISRO’s first radar imaging satellite is targeted to be launched by a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) between April and June. The satellite, according to the ISRO budget document, “is intended to provide all-weather, day and night imaging capability providing vital inputs for various agricultural and disaster applications.” The year also will see the PSLV launch the second unmanned recoverable space capsule sometime between October and December, Satish said. Two more flights by the PSLV this year will be launches of the Oceansat-2 and Resourcesat-2 Earth observing satellites.

The budget also has made provisions for four new Earth observation missions: an ocean altimetry mission in cooperation with the French space agency, CNES; an experimental hyperspectral imaging satellite; a radar imaging satellite geared toward disaster management; and an advanced cartography satellite called Cartosat-3.

ISRO also has been provided money to build and launch a Small Satellite for Atmospheric Studies and Astronomy.