- Ambitious line up for 2020
- The project- Gaganyaan
- Emergence of private space industry in India
- What else India needs?
India’s space programme
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Resilience is everything when it comes to new ventures, especially in the face of failure. After the failed lunar landing of Chandrayaan-2 last year, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief announced that India’s third lunar mission or moon mission, Chandrayaan- 3 is on. This mission is slated to be launched in 2021.
Ambitious line up for 2020
- There are more than two dozen space missions planned for this year.
- The ISRO’s minds and machines awaits to get Chandrayaan-3 off the ground after the failed lunar landing of Chandrayaan-2 last year.
- Lessons have duly been learnt from the previous attempt and the next one could be even cheaper.
- A moon orbiter is already in place, thanks to the successful part of the earlier mission, and with so much work already done on the overall project, achieving a lunar touchdown should not prove very costly.
The project- Gaganyaan
- The other major highlight of ISRO’s ambitions is Gaganyaan. It is India’s first attempt at launching astronauts into outer space.
- The world will be watching this project again, but few analysts doubt that ISRO has the required capability to do it.
- While much of what ISRO does has already been done by other space agencies of the world, India has been a genuine global pioneer of aerospatial cost compression on several fronts.
- Its use of gravitational forces to the extent possible, for example, tends to save propulsion fuel. This speaks of an ingenuity (clever and original) that global observers often marvel at.
- It has also given the agency a distinct edge in the commercial arena of satellite launch services, among a few others.
Emergence of private space industry in India
- With such a valuable base of expertise within the country, it is only natural to expect the emergence of a private space industry that could prove globally competitive.
- Space tourism is one among several opportunities that Indian businesses may be keen to explore.
- A policy framework to enable private participation in this sector, of course, would have to be formulated by the government. But ISRO could possibly play a consultative role to make it happen.
- In time, it would serve our cause as a space-faring nation to have various players competing eagerly with one another to get ahead.
- In field after field, it has been seen that competition fosters innovation. In markets where technology separates winners from the rest, this effect is even more pronounced.
What else India needs?
- India may also need in due course is a space force as a potential fourth arm of the country’s defence setup.
- The US has already created one, and, while space militarization is hugely controversial, China is expected to join this race.
- On principle, we should oppose weapons aimed at the planet from up there. But if push comes to shove, India would have to do what is needed to secure the country’s interest
- India will need to equip itself appropriately to meet various new security challenges.
- This would require ISRO to aid a defence project that brings together all manner of technological advancements that could enhance our ability to thwart and deter novel forms of enemy action or threats.
- The fact that Indian efforts have been cost efficient should grant us an advantage.
As the 2020s unfold, India should pay increasing attention to space competitiveness. Future generations are likely to be thankful that a country with a cost head start was not caught napping.