ISRO may quietly gain a cost advantage despite the delay in Gaganyaan and Chandrayaan 3, says an expert

ISRO's second lunar mission, Chandrayaan 2, takes off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota abroad the GSLV MkIII rocketISRO


  • The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) pivotal space programs may face a delay of at least a month or two due to the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
  • The silver lining is that future purchases for the space agency may come at a bargain.
  • The inventory stockpiling with manufacturers could be picked up at cheaper prices once the lockdown lifts and the excess supply floats into the market.
India’s pivotal space projects — Ganganyaan and Chandrayaan 3 — face an uncertain future with the lockdown in place and most of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) scientists now being forced to work from home.

India’s first manned spaced mission, Gaganyaan, was pegged to launch in December 2021 and Chandrayaan 3, India’s second attempt to land on the moon, was scheduled for later this year.

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But, the silver lining could be that space agency’s future projects, already known for being on a budget, could get even cheaper if ISRO plays its cards right. Crude oil prices are in a slump, components lying in wait in factories, and any future orders could come at a bargain.


Coronavirus could play in ISRO’s favour
India’s GISAT-1 satellite launch was delayed right before the lockdown due to ‘technical reasons’ and the ISRO has been mum so far about the launch of Aditya L1, which was pegged to take off in April.


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ISRO Chairman K. Sivan told The Week that like the rest of the country, the space agency is also under lockdown and there isn’t much they can do until it’s lifted.

While the space agency works on its contingency plans, there are a few factors that could play in its favour Gateway House fellow Chaitanya Giri told Business Insider.

The demand for crude oil, for instance, has taken a hit and taken the prices down with it. Brent crude, which India consumes is expected to decline even further as Lockdown 3.0 comes into play. According to CRISIL, it may settle at around $25 to $30 in the coming quarter. Any uptake of prices in the second half will only be marginal.

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While this may be bad news for the crude oil industry, it could be good news for ISRO’s consumption requirements, said Giri.

However, the space agency’s trump card may be the inventory currently stockpiling with manufacturers. There are over 100 manufacturing units, both big and small, which cater to ISRO’s missions in the private sector. Right now, all of them are shut.

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And, manufacturing for ISRO is a mammoth task with rockets, satellites and scientific instruments. But, the same rules apply. Demand is in a slump, which means prices will dip as well.

The orders that have already been placed, the commitments that have already been made or the prices which have already been sealed won’t be affected. But, any new plans in works, will have an advantage at hand.

“If ISRO needs some components from the industry, the industry may sell it at cheaper prices than previously,” Giri told Business Insider.

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So while the country may have to wait a little bit longer to see India land on the Moon or have its astronauts in space — the lockdown may be a boon rather than a bane for the Indian space agency.

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