The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has embarked on a privatisation drive that will see the state-funded space agency use the first privately built rocket for satellite launch over the next five years.
ISRO will increasingly hive off production of communication satellites and polar satellite launch vehicles (PSLVs) to the industry, ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan said.
ISRO is setting up a national committee to study feasibility of hiving off production of communication satellites and PSLVs to the private sector, he said.
Even at present, private sector participation in development of communication satellites is almost 80 per cent, he said, adding that it is looking at extending this to the building of rockets as well, given that the technology is already there.
He said the taking over of manufacturing and production activities would help ISRO scientists concentrate on research-oriented activities, and look for increased academic participation.
ISRO is keen to focus on unique science projects, develop remote sensing technologies and do more research and development instead of engaging in the mundane exercise of building communication satellites and launch vehicles.
He said the space agency had told the industry representatives at a meeting in Ahmedabad in January that it was looking at PSLVs and communication satellites produced by them.
''My target is five years from now on. Five years from now the first PSLV will roll out from that entity,'' Radhakrishnan said.
ISRO is following NASA's footsteps, which is now outsourcing some of the equipment that enables its manned space missions to private contractors, especially since the February 2003 Columbia space-shuttle disaster, in which seven astronauts died.