Big Investment in Quantum tech will have a lasting impact in Space Tech and economy | The Financial Express

Big Investment in Quantum tech will have a lasting impact in Space Tech and economy

Secure communication is vital for national security. With space becoming the fourth frontier of warfare, it is critical to have secure communication using quantum technology. How the satellites are integrating?

Big Investment in Quantum tech will have a lasting impact in Space Tech and economy
A satellite internet connection provides high-speed internet connections using satellites orbiting in space.

India is becoming a Space Power in Designing, Developing and Manufacturing abilities and is set to become global leader in Space Technology. With the opening of SpaceTech to private players, participation by startups and private organisations have brought transformative changes, says G. Satheesh Reddy – Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister.

He was addressing the opening session on the India Space Congress organised by Satcom Industry Association (SIA-India).

The era of space technology is unfolding at a fast pace. The idea is to raise our stakes in new opportunities in space exploration and mining, Space Debris Tracking and Management(SSA), miniaturized-LEO satellites, reusable launch vehicles, AI, smart propulsion, satellite broadband, satellite IOT and other industries.

This is in sheer scale that Indian industry steps in addressing the massive demand for satellite technologies. More so, when the India has taken reasonable good lead in civilian space technology.

As Reddy said on space technology, “Secure communication is vital for national security. With space becoming the fourth frontier of warfare, it is critical to have secure communication using quantum technology.”

Quantum satellites and optical fibres are the key elements of such secured transmission. While India has succeeded in quatum test conducted by ISRO , China launched the world’s first quantum satellite (named Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS), nicknamed Micius) in August 2016. This is the era of quantum innovation that needs substantial investment.

There are two sides of space activities– ‘Space for Defence in India’ and “Defence for Space” . Whilst ‘Space for Defence’ focuses on leveraging dual use capabilities around Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), communication, navigation, electronic warfare, SSA etc and ‘Defence of Space’ looks at the space kinetic & non- kinetic warfare capabilities.

The Next Big thing in Space Tech

India’s space sector accounts for 2% of the global space economy. Several inactivates in space now aim to touch 10% in the global space ecosystem with the participation from the private sector with hand holding from space agency ISRO. The projection of satellite technologies and applications for critical and varied solutions worldwide is estimated to surpass $1.6 trillion.

The session on “Space: The Fourth Frontier of Warfare” laid the ground for the crucial debate on the space tech and gaps . It is important that we deliberate as how space is defining modern warfare and the necessity to have a strong presence in space.  How can the Indian space scale up and address the be part of global solutions?

So far, the Indian space has shown advanced capabilities to carry out end-to-end space missions and the most cost-effective space programs in the world. The policy thrust and regulatory initiatives have led to encouraging space entrepreneurship, investments, and rise in the number of foreign collaborations.

According to Air Vice Marshal D.V. Khot, Director General – Defence Space Agency, “Top-down push by the government as new policies are created for the development of spacetech and warfare.” He added, “While the space is primarily a military domain, the civilian sector has made rapid stride in space in terms of objects ahead of military sector. And because of the opening up of the space sector to private entities, we are able to find new talents,” which will help India build a strong technology driven team.

As industry talks about the next generation advancement in radio engineering, ground station, payload and launch mechanism will unfold the immense opportunities in huge scale. And how will it unfold? As Space Congress aimed to address is the areas not just for payloads, space vehicles and launch services but also for cloud-based data processing capabilities with AI/ML. There are already exponential rise in orbital deployment of thousands of satellites for monitoring, tracking and risk management in case of orbital debris.

As there is a large dependency on space-based platform for communication, surveillance system should be there in space, Lt. Gen MU Nair, SO-in-C talked about the challenges faced by ground personnel in radio communication in mountain terrains.  A robust ecosystem on ground has to be prepared. Lt. Gen PJS Pannu (Retd.), Distinguished Fellow – USI, pointed out: “It is imperative that we dress-up the space for warfare. Quantum technology will play a vital role in the days and that investment on quantum technology will have a lasting impact.”

The report ‘Space for Defence in India’ which was published by PwC & SIA-India does point out the futuristic challenges. The quest remains for the constant thrust on innovation and developing cutting-edge technologies in space for defence on the supply side across all three vectors of manufacturing in upstream, operations in midstream and delivery of services in the downstream whilst ensuring that adequate resilience is built in.

The ‘Space for Defence in India’ report addresses the future in two segments, whilst ‘Space for Defence’ focuses on leveraging dual use capabilities around Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), communication, navigation, electronic warfare, SSA etc and ‘Defence of Space’ looks at the space kinetic & non- kinetic warfare capabilities.

Indeed, there are some of challenges that concern the military applications in resolving the imaging range under difficult situations and difficult terrains. The question extends to the satellite imaging capabilities with wider spectral range to remote sensing through advanced SAR techniques and Electromagnetic spectrum sensing. How the Indian industries break that boundaries as debate focused on payload SWAP features and revisit rates?  

The focus areas for building our capabilities in both segments, and the requirement of a whole of nation approach must be with the Govt, academia, public and the private sector collaborating, raising space consciousness and investing across the value chain of in R&D, manufacturing, system integration, operations and delivery of services to be a space power.

The crucial debate still remains on leveraging dual use capabilities for national security which is to focus on emerging perspectives as procurement of space capabilities for defence is gaining traction. Besides, the biggest advantage here is the lower cost. That makes a lot of senses to address and open channels for dual use which is based on the fact that space innovation does require a significant capital inatkes across the spectrum.

How better we can leverage this? “Dual use of technology will be cost effective, will have ability to provide surplus utility. Transfer of Technology (ToT) will enhance dual use technology which will have direct impact on the manufacturing industry,” Kriti Upadhyay, Founder – Indus Tech Council

UAVs and Satellite

The most vital link in the space tech is to develop a plan and solutions and seamless network for autonomous vehicles, Drones, IoT Sensors and satellites. The sensors, networked communications for Autonomous vehicles are bound to have generation shift in using technology across the spectrum. 

It is about futuristic possibilities associated with ‘quantum drones”, “internet of quantum drones”, and “constellation of quantum satellites” as the latest research puts the technological perspective which will take over. In the defence innovation, the challenges remain in such areas that address the ISR for military beyond the human sight and reach with efficacy.

In its endeavour to promote & inspire talent and create awareness about the space sector. SIA-India had invited for original research papers from students, academicians, research scholars and young entrepreneurs. 5 original papers were selected by the jury from over 40 submissions.

In the first place stood two papers – ‘Ground Tracking: Novel Automation Algorithm to Maintain Frozen Orbit through ground track maintenance Maneuvers’ by Dr. Parthiban P and Uma Devi of U.R. Satellite Centre, ISRO and ‘Airships: Airships for Satellite Data Acquisition and Disaster Management’ by Dr. Parthiban P and Thameemunnisha M of U.R. Satellite Centre, ISRO.

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First published on: 01-11-2022 at 18:03 IST