Astrium, the €3.2-billion European space company, and Antrix Corporation of India will jointly tap the growing market in the earth observation services and small satellites sectors of the global space business.
Astrium, the wholly owned subsidiary of EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space company), plans to market India’s remote sensing imagery in Europe and the US, according to its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Francois Auque.
Astrium and Antrix, which have a memorandum of understanding, will also explore new market opportunities in the small satellites weighing 2-3 tonnes and carrying 12-30 transponders of both the C and Ku band for communications, telecom and so on.
The duo jointly won two major contracts for communications satellites from — Eutelsat and Avanti Communications of the UK. While Antrix (commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation) will build, assemble and integrate the satellites in Bangalore, Astrium will provide the payload, he said. Talking to newspersons on the sidelines of the business conclave at the ongoing 58th International Astronautical Congress (IAF) here today, Mr Auque said, “The integration of Eutelsat W-2M has already started in Bangalore and the satellite is expected to be launched by the end of 2008 by Arianespace from French Guyana”.
The satellite would offer DTH (direct to home) services. On the other hand, Avanti will have a global flexible payload and offer various communication and telecom services and is expected to be launched in 2009.
Stating that the contracts were worth millions of dollars each, Mr Auque said through this strategic partnership both the companies expect to increase their share of the growing business opportunities in space.
For Astrium, which has capabilities of launching bigger satellites, the Antrix platform to build and integrate smaller satellites makes strategic sense. The duo are in talks with several prospective customers for near time business, he said.
Mr Auque felt India’s experience to market services in the earth observation services, can be taken to global markets, with a range of products that have applications across sectors.
Civil space market
The Astrium Chief estimated the civil space market to be over $30 billion with the bulk of it ($17 billion) being from the US. China and Russia are also huge markets, while in military the US alone has a $25-billion market.
Astrium operates three divisions — space transportation, satellite design and manufacture and satellite services. It offers launch services, through a partnership with Arianespace and has wholly owned subsidiaries such as Paradigm and Infoterra.