Armed forces' demand set space agency thinking

An Isro senior source said that the armed forces had a demand for spectrum ranging around 150 Mhz and this made Isro rethink about the 70 Mhz of S band spectrum it had allocated to a private player under the agreement.

“The armed forces, coast guards and intelligence had never asked us before for any allocation of spectrum. Their demand was much more than what we could supply. But we decided to take another look at it as the government agencies would have to get preference. The review was already in an advance stage and we would have cancelled it in any case,” the source claimed.

Procedurally correct

The source further said that since S-band was already vacated in favour of Ku Band by TV channels, Isro perhaps did not take the spectrum into account. “What was proposed was a new venture. Procedurally there was nothing remiss in the agreement. But they did not factor the spectrum, when they decided to give the transponders. Since there is a market determination price for other bands, they would have had to take the spectrum value into account.

Isro’s mistake was perhaps not taking into account that the spectrum could be sold to third parties, the source admitted.

Isro spokesperson S Satish that the intention to review the agreement came about so Isro “could meet societal and national requirements.”  The national requirements came in the form of using the S- band for communication purposes in troubled areas like Naxalite-prone areas and the country’s borders.

Blow to credibility

Members of the India’s premier space agency who have spent decades serving the organisation are now worried about the blow dealt to its credibility. “This could not have come at a worse time especially when we have had a failure,” an Isro official said referring to the failure of the GSLV F-06 in December 2010.

“One of the things that make Isro work is the commitment and belief of the scientists. If that faith is lost, then it takes away a great attribute,” the official rued.

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