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Chennai: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Larsen & Toubro Limited (L&T) consortium have acted as the lowest-priced bidder out of three of the three bidders to build the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) XL variant rockets, for the space sector. said an officer. With this, the transfer of PSLV-XL production outside the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) takes a step forward. Hindustan Aeronautics and L&T consortium has emerged as the lowest bidder for manufacturing five PSLV-XL rockets. Now other agreements must be signed between NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) and the winning consortium before awarding the contract.”

According to the official, if everything goes smoothly, the remaining activities are expected to be completed in a couple of months. β€œThe first PSLV-XL rocket is expected to be received in 24 months from the date of award of the contract. Thereafter, one rocket is to be delivered to NSIL every six months. The first rocket is expected to be realized sometime during the second half of 2024 and the remaining four rockets will be delivered on two rockets per year during 2025 and 2026.

This is the first time in the history of ISRO that a complete rocket including the heatshield has been built outside the space agency. However, the official declined to comment on whether the successful bid amount was around Rs 825 crore (about Rs 165 crore per rocket) excluding taxes. According to an NSIL official, selected industry players can use ISRO facilities for a fee, and it is the responsibility of the industry to deliver the rockets.

It will be interesting to see the net cost of the rocket for NSIL. ISRO officials used to say that the PSLV-XL variant would cost around Rs 190 crore and for five it would be around Rs 950 crore. The other two bids for the project were made by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) – Adani Enterprises Limited (AEL) and Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) consortium. The PSLV-XL rocket, weighing approximately 320 tonnes, is a four-stage rocket with each stage propelled by solid and liquid fuels alternately.

According to a space sector official, the Hindustan Aeronautics-L&T combine will deliver all the stages, including the heat shield, at ISRO’s rocket port at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. The first stage of the rocket will be assembled at the launch pad in Sriharikota. Stacking of rocket stages and satellite will be done by ISRO. NSIL will market the rockets for commercial flights. The rocket will also be used for national space missions. According to an NSIL official, the company will be dealing with consortium leader Hindustan Aeronautics and it is not known how the two companies are structuring their set-up for the project. Though both the companies are supplying components for ISRO, the quantum of their supply to make PSLV-XL rocket is not known.

The official also said that after looking at the working of the model, the company may decide to transfer the entire PSLV production to the industry players. An NSIL official said there would be another tender for this as the dynamics would be different. NSIL will also issue an Expression of Interest (EOI) for making ISRO’s smaller rocket – the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), which is under development. The selection process for SSLV will be simplified as NSIL has experience in selecting industry partners for manufacturing PSLV rockets. Also the SSLV is of simple technology – it is powered by solid fuel motors.

This will be followed by EOI to build ISRO’s heavy rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III (GSLV-Mk III). Meanwhile NSIL has issued an ‘Explanatory Note of Interest’ to transfer the technology of ISRO to make small satellite – India Mini Satellite. -1 (IMS-1) Bus. It is learned that the company has received around 10-15 responses for the same. ISRO’s UR Rao Satellite Center (URSC) has developed a small satellite platform that will enable low-cost access to space by providing a dedicated platform for Earth imaging, payloads for the ocean. and atmospheric studies, microwave remote sensing and space science missions with a quick turnaround time.

The satellite will have a payload mass of 30 kg and a life span of two years. NSIL has a mandate to manufacture and launch rockets and satellites through industry partners and to provide space-based services through remote sensing and communication satellites. Last year, the company issued a request for proposal (RFP) from industries to manufacture five PSLV rockets.

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