Aviation News

L&T’s Arun Ramchandani, ET Infra

Arun Ramchandani, Executive VP & Head, L&T Defence

NEW DELHI: The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle or PSLV as it is popularly known has been the most dependable workhorse for the Indian Space Research Organisation for satellite launches, with a success rate of about 95%. With the Indian Space sector being liberalised, doors have been opened for the private sector for undertaking commercial launches of the PSLV, which until now was the exclusive domain of ISRO.

In September 2022, a consortium of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and Larsen & Toubro Ltd bagged Rs 860 crore contract for production of five PSLVs over a period of four years from NewsSpace India Ltd, a public sector unit, responsible for undertaking commercialisation of space technologies.

In an interview to ET Infra, Arun Ramchandani, Executive Vice President & Head, L&T Defence, said that the first such launch is expected to be undertaken in mid of 2024.

“So till date PSLV launches were always conducted by ISRO. Now, NSIL (NewsSpace India Ltd) ,which is the commercial arm of ISRO, has placed an order on us for producing these five vehicles, and then being involved in the launch of these five vehicles,” said Ramchandani.

“Our target is to have the first launch in the mid of 2024. So, the first of the five will be launched around the mid of next year and the schedule for all the launches will be worked out as part of the plan for various missions that will take place,” he added.


While ISRO has been undertaking commercial launches for India’s own requirements as well as for foreign clients in recent years, the country is yet to capture a dominant market share in the global satellite launch market, with current market share at 2-3%. Handing over the responsibility of PSLV launches to the private sector may just help increase the market share.

“So, right now, we have orders from NSIL….it is the government enabling the industry to be ready for doing this. The long-term business model has to be that industry will plan the launches, industry will carry out the launches. Of course, the space regulator, that is IN-SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion & Authorisation Centre) will be involved, where support of ISRO facilities etc. are required, they will be available,” said Ramchandani.

While ISRO and IN-SPACe will provide the support to both the consortium partners in the initial phases, private entities will have to do the heavy lifting on their own going forward.

“So currently, we don’t have the obligation to find the payload and customers for these launches, that ISRO will take care of. The costs of doing this are taken care of in our contract, but the business model moving forward will be for us to sell capacity on the vehicle and to make it a viable proposition, which means we have to drive down the costs of doing this kind of launch and we have to find customers who are willing to pay and give the profitability to the business,” he said.

L&T Defence’s current order book from the space sector is at Rs 500 crore, which is expected to increase when the commercial PSLV launches starts from next year.


L&T’s contribution to India’s space programme goes back five decades and the company played an important role in India’s recent moon landing mission .

“For this LVM 3 (Launch Vehicle Mark-3), we had the boosters, the S200 boosters, which were made at our facilities,” said Ramchandani.

“Of course, the mission has other aspects also, like tracking of the mission, communication, etc. and we have been associated with a lot of the infrastructure required for the mission like the tracking radars, etc. So that is our role in this particular mission,” he added.

Ramchandani outlined that L&T remains very bullish on the sector and its future potential but much of the investment commitment from L&T will get lined up when the business model takes a definite shape.

“…there is also competition, there are larger vehicles, there are reusable launch vehicles, everybody is looking at how to bring down the cost of putting one kilogram into space. So, we will have to deal with all these business challenges and competition and work out a viable and remunerative business model,” he added.

  • Published On Sep 26, 2023 at 02:32 AM IST

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