Wednesday, May 12, 2021

NSIL to invest ₹10,000 crore in 5 years to launch commercial satellites

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The NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), a central government run Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE), on Friday said that it plans to invest around 10,000 crore over the next five fiscals and will hire around 300 people during the same period.

“We expect to have an investment of approximately 2,000 crore per year, starting next year or the year after that. That will be the kind of investment that we will be kind of seeking to do every year. We are estimating manpower requirement of 300 people in about five years,” Radhakrishnan Durairaj, executive director of NSIL said on Friday in Bengaluru.

He said that the company, which was incorporated in March 2019, will raise capital with a mix of equity and debt.

Durairaj said that the company had revenues of 300 crore in the previous fiscal and around 400 crore in the current year. He added that the NSIL anticipates around 400 crore revenue next fiscal as well as it looks to scale up operations.

NSIL, with a paid up capital of 10 crore and authorised capital of 100 crore, was allocated 700 crore by the Union government in its budget 2021-22. However, the newly formed entity is still working out the modalities to get this money.

With a robust order book and its offer of niche services, NSIL looks to capitalise on demand for launch of commercial satellites among other services to raise more revenues.

NSIL has four dedicated launches lined up over the next couple of years and most of its revenues earned so far have been through services, the officials added.

“We have contracts for four more dedicated launches but our NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) prevent us from revealing more details. All are foreign satellites,” he added.

With more services on offer, NSIL is looking to scale up operations and said that it was extremely competitive in the mixed category launches or dedicated missions but faces threats in the ride-share category which has several other global players.

“We were quite competitive commercially until recently. But now many of the international players have slashed their prices quite substantially. NSIL is not facing any major challenges but they (international players) are still quite a threat for us (NSIL),” he said.

Global players like SpaceX, led billionaire Elon Musk among others are also on the market for commercial launches of private satellites for various applications like communications, broadband, DTH, GPS and earth monitoring among other uses.

However, the company said that it has an edge over the others in the higher payload categories or dedicated missions of under 1000 kgs where the client bears the entire cost of the launch. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on February 28, successfully launched Amazonia-I and 18 co-passenger satellites from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

The space agency has already executed four PSLV missions for 45 auxiliary commercial satellites, apart from Amazonia-I.

“NSIL has established itself as a major space service provider in a very short period and in the not so distant future, you will see it emerging as a key player in all areas of space sector and space-based services in India with a significant global presence,” NSIL chairman and managing director C Narayanan said.

According to ISRO, Amazonia-I is an optical earth observation satellite of National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and would strengthen the existing structure by providing remote sensing data to users for monitoring deforestation in the Amazon region and analysis of diversified agriculture across the Brazilian territory.

Amazonia-I was the first dedicated commercial mission of the NSIL.

The 18 co-passenger satellites onboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)-C51, considered the workhorse of the space agency, included four from IN-SPACe and 14 from NSIL. Only one of the 14 commercial satellites was from India while the remaining 13 were from the USA. ISRO has put 342 customer satellites from 34 countries into orbit so far.

The company has also floated RFPs (request for proposals) to five Indian companies or consortia to build PSLV launch vehicles but Durairaj said that there will be no transfer of technology to these firms and that it will only be through licenced production.

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