Alpha Design Technologies Limited (ADTL), a private Indian space company, offered the underlying assembly, integration and testing (AIT) services for the recently launched Earth Observation Satellite (EOS)-04, the Risat-1A. The company is backed by the Adani Group, one of India’s largest corporate and industrial groups, and with the Risat-1A, marked the second satellite for which they offered services to the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro).
Col. (retd.) H.S. Shankar, chairman and managing director of ADTL, told The Times of India in an interview that the company procured all the components sourced by Isro for the satellite, and then offered AIT services to bring together the radar imaging satellite. The latter served as the first successful earth observation satellite launched by India since 2020, after the previous one, EOS-3, was lost during an unsuccessful launch of Isro’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)-F10 rocket in August 2021.
The move marks an increasing involvement of private companies offering services in partnership with government-backed bodies, which industry experts have stated could be a major way forward for India’s space industry. This is not the first involvement that ADTL has had with Isro – in 2018, the company signed a contract from the central space body of India to offer AIT services.
Prior to its contract, ADTL had also helped Isro assemble two satellites that were part of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). The latter operates under the name NavIC, powered by the IRNSS satellite constellation. Of these, ADTL assembled IRNSS-1H and 1I. However, the IRNSS-1H – launched in 2017 – was a failure after its heat shield failed to deploy when being injected in orbit.
In December 2021, Chaitanya Giri, consultant at Research and Information, had told Mint that since the space sector is highly capital intensive, startups and companies should look at India’s own corporate groups such as Adani itself to bolster the sector. Since then, Jitendra Singh, union minister of state for science and technology, has told the Lok Sabha that the government is working on a new space policy framework that would ease foreign direct investments in the sector.
In an interview in January 2022, Lt Gen. (retd.) A.K. Bhatt, director general of industry body Indian Space Association, had told Mint that the upcoming policies could help the Indian space startups seek larger funds – as the country chases a larger share of the global private space market.