PROJECT | Staff Reporter, India

ISRO's solar tech buy to cut costs for India's space programme

This reduces the need to buy solar cells from private US firms.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is bringing in the technology for the mass production of space solar cells into the country. The purchase of the space solar cell technology will allow ISRO to power Indian satellites without having to purchase solar cells from private US companies, thereby reducing costs. The move is also expected to make India's space program to be more independent of the United States.

In a Times of India report, ISRO chairman Kailasavadivoo Sivan called the move the indigenisation of India's space solar cells. “Till now we have been procuring space cells from some US private companies for producing our satellites. Being a critical technology, imported cells cost us dear,” explains Sivan. “Currently, we are totally dependent on US imports for our satellites. Even now, we face import restrictions for buying these solar cells in bulk. If due to some reasons, the import of the critical component stops, the programme will come to a standstill. In order to reduce dependency on imports, we have decided to produce them here."

“For producing a small remote sensing satellite, 1,500 solar cells are needed. For a big satellite like Gsat (communication satellite), around 10,000-15,000 solar cells are imported. ISRO used around 20,000 imported solar cells for developing the country’s heaviest satellite Gsat-11. Isro has to shell out Rs 15 crore for import of every 10,000 cells. If these cells are produced in the country, the cost will go down several times," adds Sivan.

The production of the space solar cells is expected to begin soon in Bangalore with Bharat Electronics Limited bagging the manufacturing contract. The mass production of the space solar cells will be supervised by ISRO.

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