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Siddaramaiah woos US aerospace firms to ‘Make in Karnataka’

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Bengaluru: Pitching for investments to boost the state’s growth story, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday urged US aerospace firms to make products and components for domestic and global markets in Karnataka.

“I appeal to this august gathering of industry to invest in the aerospace sector and be part of ‘Make in Karnataka’,” Siddaramiah said at the US-India aviation summit here.

Noting that Bengaluru was India’s aerospace hub with 65 percent of the country’s investment in the sector, the chief minister said Karnataka was the first state to have an aerospace policy (2013-2023) to attract investments and new technologies.

“The growth potential of aerospace and defence industry has attracted global majors like Boeing, Honeywell, Airbus, EADS, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls Royce and UTC Aerospace to set up their engineering and design services in this tech hub,” Siddaramaiah told at least 300 delegates participating in the three-day event.

Assuring the prospective firms of the state government’s support to facilitate their investments with incentives, Siddaramaiah said a dedicated Aerospace Park has been formed near the Bengaluru international airport at Devanahalli on 984 acres of land, with a special economic zone (SEZ) and the country’s first aerospace SEZ at Belagavi in the state’s northern region, about 500 km from Bengaluru.

Home to the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) and other major defence units such as Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL), Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Bengaluru has pioneered the growth of the aerospace industry across the country.

“Growth potential of our aerospace and defence industry is making global majors to set up their subsidiaries in India and collaborate with our industry for joint ventures, as the defence offset policy offers a huge opportunity to make for us and exports,” Siddaramaiah pointed out.

In this context, the chief minister said Maintenance, Repairs and Operations (MRO) segment in the civil aviation sector was estimated to be Rs.1,300 crore by 2020.

“Given the labour-intensive nature of MRO, leading MRO firms, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and international airlines are looking forward to outsource this work to Indian firms, as they are being done outside the country in Dubai, Sri Lanka and Singapore,” Siddaramaiah added.

The state has recently launched e-udyami, an online one-stop shop which allows investors to apply for approvals and monitor status of their projects’ implementation.

Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and US Ambassador to India Richard Verma addressed the gathering at the inaugural session.

Sponsored by the US Trade and Development Agency in partnership with the central government, the summit is meant to assist Indian stakeholders to identify and specify US technology and practices to suit their expansion and modernisation needs.

The Indian civil aviation market is expected to be $110 billion by 2020, as the country is projected to become the world’s third largest aviation market, handling 336 million domestic and 85 million international passengers.

The summit is also aimed at promoting sale of US equipment and services in a competitive Indian aviation market.

(IANS)

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Firefly Aerospace Inc Plans to Build a Factory at Cape Canaveral

NASA named Firefly as one of nine U.S. companies competing for funding under a program to develop technology to explore the moon’s surface.

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Rocket
A Falcon 9 SpaceX heavy rocket stands ready for launch on pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Feb. 5, 2018 VOA

Firefly Aerospace Inc, a resurgent rocket company founded by a former SpaceX engineer, plans to build a factory and launch site at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Spaceport in a $52 million deal, people familiar with the project said on Wednesday.

The Firefly project is strategically important for the Cedar Park, Texas-based startup as it competes with several other new entrants vying to cash in on a big jump in the number of small satellites expected in the coming years.

Companies like Firefly, billionaire British entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit, and the U.S.-New Zealand company Rocket Lab, are among the most promising companies designing miniaturized launch systems to link a broader swath of the economy to space at lower cost.

Firefly and Space Florida, the state’s spaceport authority, declined to comment, citing confidentiality agreements.

Russian Rocket
The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying the crew of astronaut Nick Hague of the U.S. and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Russia blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. VOA

Beginning around 2020, around 800 small satellites are expected to launch annually, more than double the annual average over the past decade, according to Teal Group analyst Marco Caceres.

The boom is fueled in part by new venture cash and technology leaps that have reduced the size of satellites used for everything from communications to national security.

A Florida project code-named “Maricopa” was publicly disclosed in November by Space Florida, but officials have been tight-lipped on specifics. Two people familiar with the project said Firefly is the company involved, though one of the people said the deal had not been finalized.

Firefly aims for a first flight in December of its Alpha rocket, which is capable of carrying around 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg) into low-Earth orbit at a cost of about $15 million per flight.

NASA, tissue
Firefly has a launchpad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and has generally talked about expanding operations for Alpha.

By comparison, it can cost around $62 million for a ride on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 with a payload topping 50,000 pounds (22,700 kg).

Firefly, founded around 2014 by former SpaceX and NASA engineer Tom Markusic, says its main competitors are government-subsidized foreign ones like the Indian Space Research Organization.

Asset management firm Noosphere Ventures bought Firefly’s assets in 2017 after it nearly shut down when a key European investor backed out. That resulted in the cancellation of a $5.5 million NASA contract for small satellite launches.

Also Read: NASA Planning to Use Blockchain Technology For Air Traffic Management

Firefly has a launchpad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and has generally talked about expanding operations for Alpha and a higher-capacity Beta rocket around 2021. It was not clear when the Florida expansion would be completed.

In November, NASA named Firefly as one of nine U.S. companies competing for funding under a program to develop technology to explore the moon’s surface. (VOA)