Aerospace firm Ananth Technologies has signed deals to build six foreign-owned satellites in India, a first by a private firm as it taps the country's low-cost base to make satellites for global customers.
The Hyderabad-based Ananth, a supplier of systems for the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (Isro) satellites, is opening a fullfledged satellite-making facility later this month in Bengaluru, where it will build satellites weighing between 50 kg and 250 kg for customers in Sweden and France, chairman and managing director Subba Rao Pavuluri told ET.
“We can fully integrate satellites at around 30% lower costs (than in the West),” said Pavuluri. “We will also help them launch from Indian soil.”
He did not name the customers citing confidentiality agreements.
Ananth Technologies has been a supplier of satellite systems and sub-systems for India’s space agency and has also integrated the solar panels for these satellites. Its new facility is designed to fully integrate satellites for both local and overseas customers.
India’s decades-long expertise in building satellites has helped create a critical talent base, giving it an edge in tapping outsourcing avenues. The country has an opportunity to integrate medium-sized satellites, Pavuluri said, because they are designed to last for over five years and companies invest huge sums in building them.
“We are offering end-to-end service. Integrating the satellite, identifying the rocket and launching them from Indian soil,” he said.
India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) has emerged as the preferred rocket to hurl small and medium satellites into space. In the five years to fiscal year 2019, Isro earned Rs 1,254.19 crore from launching satellites for global customers from the US, UK, Japan and Germany, among others.
Isro is developing a small satellite launch vehicle (SSLV), a rocket that can be turned around every two days and designed to hurl 400 kg satellites into low-earth orbit.
Antrix Corp, the commercial arm of Isro, had signed a contract in the past with EADS Astrium to build a communication satellite for British media firm Avanti Screenmedia Group.
Isro has formed New Space India, a new entity to engage with the industry to build and launch satellites on Indian soil.
Other upcoming full-fledged satellite production initiatives include the proposed production facility to be built jointly by Berlin Space Technologies and Ahmedabadbased Azista Aerospace.
Analysts said “a lot of companies are planning to follow this model”, but it could be more interesting if the production of full-fledged satellites brings in a satellite services industry.
“These companies can be an outsourcing hub for manufacturing satellites for certain global companies and take advantage of the lowcosts in (India),” said Narayan Prasad, an industry analyst and cofounder of satsearch.com. “What is going to be more exciting is that if service providers in the field of communication or imaging emerge as a result of such satellite producing facilities.”