Industry partnership in space sector: Private firms deliver flight-grade systems to Isro

With a thrust towards privatisation of the space sector, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has thrown open the doors for its RF (radio frequency) systems and electromagnetic actuator manufacturing to private players through a government-owned, company-operated (GOCO) system. According to a release, SFO Technologies from Thiruvananthapuram and Hical Technologies from Bengaluru have delivered flight-grade systems to the space agency.

With the shifting mandate of the space agency focusing on scientific missions and developing new technologies, the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) decided on the GOCO model for these two systems. Earlier, the centre had successfully tried a similar model for surface treatment of various parts.

The RF packages and actuation systems are among the most complex in a launch vehicle and their manufacturing is equally challenging. Making an RF system involves intricate frequency tuning, complex integration and rigorous testing whereas making actuation systems requires complex mechanical and electrical integration. Hence, these have predominantly remained an in-house activity for Isro.

RF systems are used for telemetry and telecommand functions of a space mission. Three RF packages were identified for realization through the GOCO facility: Programmable S-Band Transmitter (PSBT), Solid-state C-Band Transponder and Digital Telecommand Receiver (DTCR). After training of the industry partners, the work on the RF systems began in August last year.

Electromechanical actuators are used to control and guide launch vehicles to ensure proper thrust control by alignment of nozzles in desired directions. Twelve types of electromechanical actuators for PSLV, GSLV and GSLV Mk-III were identified for production in GOCO mode. Again, after training the industry partners, the manufacturing began last January and the actuators started rolling out by August the same year.

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