Originally meant to help India plan how to utilise its natural resources, ISRO's galaxy of remote-sensing satellites—six in orbit now—have helped it grab as much as 20 per cent of the global market! The images are marketed from nine international ground stations (IGS) through Space Imaging of the US. Three other stations will begin acquisition in early 2002. A new company, Euromap, has been set up in Munich, to market Indian satellite images in Europe.
ISRO has been able to recover about 70 per cent of the cost of the five remote-sensing satellites (the sixth, with one-metre resolution, is for defence purposes, only the second such satellite in space), or Rs 177 crore ($38.47 million). About $16 million was garnered by ISRO's corporate arm, Antrix Corporation Ltd, through the Space Imaging contract, while the rest came from sales to SAARC countries and the Indian government. Last fall, Antrix earned $7 million, third-highest after France's SPOT ($20 million) and the US-based Landsat ($10 million). Next year, Antrix aims to more than double its revenues.