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India can benefit from lessons learned in the global space ecosystem

By collaborating with other countries and sharing resources, knowledge, and expertise, India can increase its competitiveness and achieve more in the industry.

India’s space industry has seen remarkable growth in recent years, making significant contributions to the country’s economic and technological development. With a focus on satellite launches, remote sensing, and interplanetary missions, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has been a leader in the global space industry. However, as the industry continues to grow and evolve, it is important for India to consider the lessons learned from other countries in order to determine the next steps for its own space industry.

One of the key lessons learned from the global space industry is the importance of commercialization. In order to fully realize the potential of the space industry, it is crucial to transition from government-led initiatives to commercially-driven ones. This can be done by building up a strong private sector that can offer services at low prices and drive innovation in the industry. In this regard, a greater push for private role in space, with space-related startups are already mushrooming. India currently has 104 space start-ups and 368 space tech companies; however, there is place and opportunity for more. In comparison, the US has 5,582 space-focused companies, showing the possibility for growth here as well. Case in point, space startups like Pixxel and AgniKul Cosmos are making remarkable progress. However, Indian startups need greater international funding and partnerships with their colleagues in the US, UK, France, Japan and Germany to share in international best practices.

This brings us to the important lesson for the need for international collaboration. The global space industry is a highly competitive field, and countries that work together have a better chance of achieving their goals. By collaborating with other countries and sharing resources, knowledge, and expertise, India can increase its competitiveness and achieve more in the industry. For example, India can partner with countries like the United States and France, which have a wealth of experience and resources in the space industry. Moreover, IIT Madras, the US Consulate General Chennai and the Indian Space Association have also called upon the governments in Indo-Pacific countries to boost scientific and business collaboration in the space technology sector. The three organisations highlighted three core areas of further collaboration, namely, Make in Space for Use in Space for developing materials like concrete, Make on Earth for Use in Space like 3D printing of metals and Make in Space for Use Back on Earth like identifying suitable materials like semiconductors and test them on earth under low gravity conditions.

In addition, it is important for India to focus on developing new technologies and innovations in the space industry. This includes areas such as satellite communications, earth observation, and interplanetary missions. To stay ahead in the global space industry, India needs to continue to invest in R&D and encourage private companies to do the same. For example, India can build on its recent success with the Mars Orbiter Mission by investing in new missions to the moon and other planets, as well as developing new technologies for satellite launches and communications. A few more examples include India’s Chandrayaan launched by the ISRO in October 2008 which operated till August 2009. The key area where India can and should take the lead is in space tourism. India’s flagship indigenously built programme, the “Gaganyaan project” is underway and the government plans to send India’s first crewed flight in space in 2024. This is a great achievement for the domestic space industry. India’s USP is our cost-effective and economical value space launch. This makes our potential for space tourism all the more high.

Another important aspect to consider is the development of a regulatory framework for the space industry. As the industry grows and becomes more complex, it is important for India to have a clear and comprehensive framework in place to govern the sector. This will help to ensure the safety of launches, protect the rights of satellite operators, and prevent conflicts between countries.

It is also important for India to focus on the social and economic benefits of the space industry. This includes creating job opportunities, promoting entrepreneurship, and developing new industries. The space industry has the potential to contribute to the economic development of the country, and India can learn from the experiences of other countries, such as the US, France and Japan that have leveraged their space industries to drive economic growth. Towards this, the union budget 2023-24 showed the government’s focus on space. With an allocation of Rs 12,543 crore to the Department of Space, the support for space tech is increasing. This amount comes to around USD2 billion. However, a lot more can and needs to be done. The US spends a staggering USD61 billion, while China is a distant second with almost USD12 billion.

In conclusion, the global space industry has much to offer India in terms of lessons learned and opportunities for growth. By focusing on commercialization, international collaboration, technology innovation, regulatory framework, and social and economic benefits, India can continue to develop its space industry and make a significant impact on the global stage. By doing so, India can continue to play a key role in the advancement of science, technology and innovation, and contribute to a better future for all.


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