The launch of India's eighth navigation satellite, IRNSS- 1H, on Thursday will open a new chapter in the country's history of space exploration as, for the first time, the private sector has been actively involved in assembling and testing of a satellite. Earlier, the private sector's role was limited only to supplying components.

The 1,425-kg satellite is all set to start its voyage from the second launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, riding the Indian Space Research Organisation's trusted launch vehicle PSLV-XL. A consortium led by Bengaluru-based Alpha Design Technologies successfully completed 25 percent of the development work of IRNSS-1H, under the guidance of ISRO scientists.

ISRO chairman A S Kiran Kumar stated, "For the first time, a private company has been involved in the integration of a satellite. Progressively, we will involve more and more companies in satellite assembly activities." Kiran Kumar added "Subsystems of the payload and launch vehicle are already being developed in collaboration with the industry."

Alpha Design CMD HS Shankar asserts that the consortium had bagged the orders to build IRNSS-1I and work had already begun. The launch of IRNSS-1I is scheduled for April 2018. Incidentally, in another first, a crucial part of the development of IRNSS-1H happened at the newly developed ISRO space park in Whitefield.

ISRO felt the need to launch IRNSS-1H after three atomic clocks of its first navigational satellite IRNSS-1A, launched in 2013, stopped functioning. - Times of India