Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), launched 239 satellites over the past three years, earning revenues of Rs. 6,289.05 crore in the process, the government informed the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. Replying to a question, the Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Jitendra Singh, also said the government intends to replace the Antrix Corporation with a new entity called NewSpace India Limited (NSIL).

Under the administrative control of the Department of Space (DoS), NSIL will commercially exploit the research and development work of ISRO and other DoS units, said Singh. NSIL had been set up to meet the ever-increasing demands of Indian space program and to commercialize the emerging global space market, he added. It would spur the growth of Indian industries in the space sector and enable them to scale up manufacturing and production base, he said.

Presenting the Union Budget for 2019-20 earlier this month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had claimed that India had emerged as a major space power with the technology and ability to launch satellites and other space products at low cost. NSIL would spearhead commercialization of various space products, including launch vehicles and technologies, she said.

The revenues from launching third-party satellites is apparently being put to good use by ISRO, which this week launched its latest lunar mission, Chandrayaan 2, after a technical glitch led to the postponement of the scheduled liftoff by a week. The mission is set to explore the uncharted lunar south pole with the objective of mapping the availability of lunar water. A successful landing would make India only the fourth country after the US, China and the erstwhile USSR to achieve a soft landing on the surface of the moon.