Buoyed with the high success rate achieved with its commercial launches, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has reportedly said it plans to step up its commercial activities in order to earn larger revenues, negotiating with certain countries that restrict the use of Indian launch vehicles.

ISRO Chairman, G Madhavan Nair, spoke to reporters after receiving the Ramomohan Puraskar 2008 in Kolkata last week and noted the organisation’s ambitious plans for the future.

Nair said, “Our domestic requirement is four to five launches per year and we are trying to increase commercial launches. We are favourably placed since our costs are about 80% of international launching costs. But some countries have restrictions on launching their satellites from other countries, as well as Indian launch vehicles. The technology which we use is applicable for dual purpose - hence some of these countries have reservations.”

His reference to dual use refers to launching satellites for military reasons, as well as civilian purposes.

ISRO launched the PSLV C-9 last month with two satellites Cartosat-2A and the IMS-1, along with eight nano-satellites, and became only the second country in the world after Russia, to launch multi-satellites with polar satellite launch vehicles.

Preparations for the launch of the country’s moon mission, Chandrayan-1, India's first unmanned mission to the moon, are said to be on-track and proceeding on schedule – with the launch expected in the third quarter of 2008. The satellite is to be programmed to orbit the moon for two years, taking pictures of the lunar surface in phases and also looking for the existence of water and special elements such as helium-3.

After the launch of the Chandrayan-1, ISRO will turn its attention to the launch of the much publicised Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).