New Delhi: India‘s space launch vehicle programme, the first to be taken up entirely by private players, has witnessed a spirited response from three entities, including a consortia led by the Adani Group and the other by Larsen & Toubro.
When one of the entities bags the contract for five Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) project, this will be the maiden attempt by India to build a launch vehicle end-to-end by the private sector.
India had opened up the space sector for the private players in June 2020, which was hitherto the preserve of the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its entities.
The last date for submitting the bids for constructing the five PSLVs was July 30, when the three entities had submitted their bids in response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by New Space India Limited (NSIL), a public sector undertaking under the Department of Space of the Government of India.
NSIL was initially conceived to be a business arm of ISRO, and later mandated with productionising launch vehicles, proudly owning satellites and more.
NSIL had introduced an Expression of Interest (EOI) in Aug. 2019 for building five PSLVs to which five entities had initially responded. But the EOI was withdrawn and a fresh RFP for the same number of PSLVs was issued in Dec. 2020.
There were five players who responded to the EOI; three have submitted bids to the RFP, the Times of India reported from Bengaluru, without naming the senior official from whom it had received the information.
Among the PSUs that would be part of the two consortia bidding for this project include the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), and BEML Limited, while Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) will bid solo. All these PSUs were listed on the stock exchanges in India in the recent years.
Adani-led consortium will also include its private sector partner, Bengaluru-based Alpha Design Technologies Private Limited, BEL and BEML. The L&T-led consortium will also include HAL.
The contract, when awarded by the end of this year, is expected to increase the ‘Make in India‘ efforts of the Narendra Modi government and will take ISRO’s annual satellite launch capacities a notch higher.
“The techno-commercial evaluation is underway, after which the bids will be opened. We are hopeful of completing the whole process in a couple of months, and cannot comment on anything more at this juncture,” NSIL Chairman and Managing Director Radhakrishnan D. was quoted as saying by TOI.
The winning entity will be the licenced producer of the PSLVs, which was made by ISRO with supplies from 150-odd domestic large, medium and small industries.
The PSLV, which had its first flight in Sep. 1993, has been ISRO’s workhorse, having accomplished greater than 50 launch missions over 25 years. NSIL plans to invest Rs 10,000 crore over the next five year in expanding India’s capacity to produce launch vehicles and build infrastructure.
NSIL — with a paid up capital of Rs 100,000,000 ($1.35 million) and an authorised capital of Rs 1,000,000,000 ($13.5 million) — was allotted Rs 7,000,000,000 ($94.4 million) by the Modi government in the 2021-22 budget. In 2019-20 financial year, NSIL earned Rs 3,000,000,000 crore ($40.4 million)