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Advantage India

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India is an established space power with certain niche, much appreciated advantages. ISRO has developed inexpensive and reliable launch vehicles and satellites that are used by even the developed countries because of their cost-effectiveness. With the new space related policies of the government, the private sector, too, is being encouraged to expand on this excellent foundation, both, vertically and horizontally.

Every stage of ISRO’s journey has been path-breaking, from the time when the first rocket was transported to the launch site on a bicycle to the present, when Chandrayan 3 basically navigated itself into position on its own. For a long time, the US and Russia carried the burden of breakthrough space exploration, but have become somewhat jaded, the enthusiasm seeming to have waned due to the cost factor and other considerations. (It should not be forgotten that a significant number of PIOs have worked at NASA from the early years.) China has emerged as an ambitious player, while India is establishing itself as technologically innovative and with a clear eye on what it hopes to gain from the effort.

Globally, the private sector has now taken it upon itself to fill the gaps, such as manufacturing reusable launch vehicles and the development of spaceflight, like Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Jeff Bezos’s and Elon Musk’s space exploration companies, who are all collaborating with NASA and others on achieving the next phase in Humanity’s outreach to the stars. Wealthy Arab countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia are also collaborating on achieving this goal.

India’s lunar mission has, therefore, come at a significant time, further raising its profile and credibility. Already, its private sector entrepreneurs are on the cusp of providing further heft to the effort. The image boost Chandrayan-3’s success has given was visible at the BRICS conference in South Africa and will help at the coming G-20 conference in Delhi. It will further overcome the stereotypical image in many countries of India trying to become too big for its boots, as illustrated in the notorious NYT cartoon on ISRO. So, apart from the direct benefits from the space programme, there is a lot that it adds to India’s soft power.

There are some exciting events that have already been planned for the future. As outlined by MoS, S&T, Dr Jitendra Singh, India’s plan to send astronauts into space on the ‘Gaganyaan’ will be preceded by a ‘female’ robot, ‘Vyommitra’, designed to react to conditions just like a human being. ‘She’ is certain to capture the imagination of people worldwide, just as ‘Chandrayan-3’ has done in the present. That will be further Indian ‘masala’ to the mix.