Bengaluru: Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) says it is working on a project to double the load carrying capacity of all its rockets. With this, the state-run space agency expects to cut heavy satellite launch costs by at least 50 percent. Presently, India’s rocket can carry a maximum payload of four tons into a geostationary transfer orbit.
ISRO hopes to lower the launch cost through technologies like reusable launch vehicles and its scramjet engine, which it tested once in a mission in 2016. But, it will be ready only by the year 2030, according to ISRO chairman K Sivan.
GSLV MK-III is ISRO’s most powerful launch vehicle to date which can lift four ton of payloads to the geostationary transfer orbit and 10-tons to the lower earth orbit. The GSLV MK-III costs approximately $60 million, which ISRO intends to further lower to garner the lucrative heavy satellite launch contracts. While a satellite launch on Arianespace’s rocket costs about $100 million after subsidies, SpaceX charges approximately $62 million.
Meanwhile, ISRO has also started using electronic propulsion to reduce the weight of its communication satellites. Nearly 60 percent of the satellite weight consists of onboard chemical fuel and by opting for electric power for maneuvering in space the mass of the satellite is reduced.
ISRO first tested this technology on the GSAT 9 which had its overall weight reduced by three-fourths with electronic propulsion.