Thursday, March 22, 2007

Commercial Orbital Transportation Services

Commercial Orbital Transportation popularly referred to as "COTS" could be an exciting prospect for Indian space Industry.

NASA's single space shuttle flight costs more than $500 million and apart from that the shuttle is going to retire after 2010. This has prompted NASA to look for alternative sources to launch cargo to the International Space Station.

In august 2006, NASA awarded COTS to two private entities viz SpaceX and Rocketplane Kistler. SpaceX has twice tried unsuccessfully to launch rocket in space and whereas Kistler is yet to test its launch vehicle.

COTS will be used to transport cargo to International Space Station(ISS). ISS is located approximately 360 km above earth usually called as Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Currently, the transport of cartgo to ISS is done using Russian rocket Soyuz, which can carry payload of 7.5 tonnes in LEO.

Indian launch vehicle PSLV can launch 1.5 tonne satellites in sun synchronous Orbit which has about 600-800 km altitude. while GSLV I can launch satellites weighing upto 5 tonnes in LEO. GSLV III is under process of development which is touted to have capability to launch 10 tonne satellites in LEO.
My Recommendations:
Space Launch industry is growing by leaps and bounds. considering the number of private sector companies like burt rutan's spaceshipone, Bigelow's inflatable orbital outposts and spaceX, the race is becoming more exciting with the fact that commercial viability is being achieved.
India on the lines of Brahmos, should have a joint venture with Russian space agency. The outline of the joint venture would be as follows:
  • India will launch all the small & medium satellites of Russia at a zero profit basis.
  • Russia will outsource all the small & medium launches to ISRO.
  • India will use both of the launch pads(one at sriharikota & other which is under development) for Russian satellite launches at priority basis.
  • Russia will concentrate its energies in developing advanced manned space vehicles.
  • The joint venture entity will bid for COTS for NASA.
  • In return Russia will provide docking tech to isro to incorporate in GSLV.
  • GSLV will be used for COTS.
  • India will provide for 75% of the funding requirments of the entity.

This entity will help to Russia and India both to tap the emerging space industry. Russia will also get funding for its cash strapped Space industry.

India will benefit technologically and reduce its time required to develop techs for manned space exploration.


Shreyaswini said...

If you seriously believe that NASA will give COTS to a non-american or european company, you are living in dreamland.

Pawankumar Nathani said...

The Idea is not only to get some business but also shorten the time span to acquire advanced technology..

Russia can be lured (though Iadmit itz difficult) into such entity so that it can share its tech.

Recently, Russia and china have entered into somewhat similar agreement, where Russia will be launching chinese satellites and they both will develop newer techs...

Pawankumar Nathani said...

Hi Shreyaswini,

Unable to access your profile!!