Aug 31, 2008

ISRO arm’s revenue up at Rs 940-cr on satellite launches

Bangalore, Aug. 30 Two commercial satellite launches made from Sriharikota during 2007-08 have driven up the revenue of ISRO’s commercial arm Antrix Corporation to Rs 940 crore for that year.

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Bangalore, Aug. 30 Two commercial satellite launches made from Sriharikota during 2007-08 have driven up the revenue of ISRO’s commercial arm Antrix Corporation to Rs 940 crore for that year.

Antrix’s pre-audit revenue grew nearly 42 per cent year on year — up from Rs 664 crore — due to the launch of Israeli defence satellite TecSAR in January 2008 and Italy’s Agile in April 2007. A part of it spilled over from the previous year.

The mainstay of business, however, remains the leasing of transponder capacity on ISRO satellites to broadcasters, VSATs and public sector users, according to Antrix’s Executive Director, Mr K.R. Sridhara Murthi. The space services and systems provider of the Department of Space is now a ‘mini ratna’ – which gives it relatively more autonomy to take faster decisions on some of its projects and collaborations.

Antrix also saw its provisional profit after tax touching Rs 169 crore, or 60 per cent growth over Rs 105 crore it gained in fiscal 2007. Two years back, in 2005-06, Antrix’s sales were Rs 414 crore.

In the complex and volatile global space services market: “This growth is certainly heartening but it also poses a challenge as to how we maintain further growth”, Mr Murthi told Business Line.

IMAGERY, LAUNCH DEALS

In remote sensing data sales, which gave 10 per cent of the revenue last year, Antrix has wrested the big and growing Australian market, where it will sell imageries from Resourcesat/IRS-P5. Australia has apparently sought Indian data to replace long-time supplies from US Landsat earth observation satellites after there were supply hitches. Australia, new and important territory to Antrix, would be served initially for three years.

“We have also now entered into a good business contract of $5 million (around Rs 20 crore a year) from Russia for IRS data,” Mr Murthi said. In the past, Russia was an occasional user of IRS data and it can renew the one-year deal.

It recently signed contracts to launch two satellites as co-passengers next year. These are the Italian space agency’s 200-kg IMSAT and Algeria’s Alsat-2A, a 200-kg earth observation satellite. ISRO reportedly charged Rs 45 crore for Agile and a little more than that for TecSAR.

“We are looking at launching some more nanosats and a couple of other opportunities,” Mr Murthi said.

Ideally, Antrix, like other space majors, would prefer to peg its growth on the bigger pie of building and launching satellites for global customers. ISRO has been making its satellites for over a decade and has also launched 16 tiny and small satellites for a fee. Its real opportunity in launch services, according to Mr Murthi, will start opening up when the GSLV-MkIII that can lift four tonnes to space gets into service in two years.

Currently, ISRO is working on two satellite integration contracts that it won jointly with EADS Astrium. The W2M satellite is to be delivered to Eutelsat around October. The other one, HYLAS, is for Avanti Screen Media of the UK.

by Madhumathi D.S.

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