US may outsource lightweight satellite launches to India

US may outsource lightweight satellite launches to India

Lockheed Martin, the biggest US defence, aerospace and military technology corporation, broached the subject recently with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its export arm, Antrix.

Lockheed Martin's India Chief Executive Roger Rose told India Strategic defence magazine ( that as the US was moving towards longer distance and more sophisticated probes, it made commercial sense to outsource the launching of some satellites. There was a dearth of low-cost launching facilities in the world, but ISRO and Antrix had a commendable track record in this regard, he said.

Lockheed Martin was also interested in cooperating with ISRO on India's manned space flights. The corporation had substantial technological inputs on many or most of the US space missions, and some of these could be shared with India.

Rose aid that senior executives from Lockheed Martin had visited Bangalore in August and held discussions with ISRO and Antrix. Some of the US satellites assigned to Lockheed Martin could be outsourced to India and they could "ride piggyback on Indian rockets".

Commercially, it would be a win-win situation for both sides. And if cooperation between the two countries grew substantially, the Indian companies could also become part of a global supply chain with Lockheed Martin, India Strategic quoted Rose as saying.

At present, ISRO is on the US "Entities List" due to which US companies cannot share hi-tech dual technology as defined by the Department of Commerce. New Delhi has already asked Washington to remove ISRO, as well as the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), from that blacklist, to make bilateral cooperation meaningful.

This issue is likely to figure during US President Barack Obama's visit to India next month.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 136,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation's 2009 sales were $44.5 billion.