The aftermath of India’s highly successful Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also known as ‘Mangalyaan’, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is getting more and more global attention for its objective of low-cost access to space. Recently, PSLV-C34 rocket injected 20 big and small satellites into Polar Sun-synchronous Orbits and it was an achievement for ISRO, and a record. Earlier, The Indian Space Research Organization had joined the race to develop a space vehicle that can fly numerous times into space like aeroplanes by successfully conducting the maiden test flight of a Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. Adding to these, the space agency registered a hat-trick of success on launch of geosynchronous launch vehicles with today’s GSLV-F05 flight carrying advanced weather satellite INSAT-3DR and placing it in GTO successfully. “We had a very successful flight of GSLV-Mk II. This is third consecutive GSLV-Mk II launch with indigenous cryogenic upper stage. Last August (2015) we had successful launch of GSLV-D6. Our intent is to launch two-three GSLV-MkII missions every year in the coming years,” ISRO Chairman A S Kiran Kumar had said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also praised the cost-effective nature of Indian space programme, saying the country’s Mars mission had reportedly cost less than the big-budget Hollywood science fiction “Gravity”. In his address after witnessing the successful launch of the PSLV C23 rocket that injected five foreign satellites into intended orbit from here, he also traced the humble beginnings of the country’s space history while pointing out the rapid strides it has made so far. Mangalyaan, India’s interplanetary project was launched in November 2013 at an estimated cost of USD 72 million while the superhit English movie starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney was reportedly made at an estimated USD 100 million. ISRO’s budget along with PM Modi’s ‘Make in India’ pitch is also helping the space agency.
Interestingly, During the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US, the main concern of the American companies that Isro is subsidising its commercial launches and that these companies will not be able to compete with India’s low prices, will be addressed. “The two countries have to move past civil space collaboration to look at space security issues. Space has to be looked at as one more area for strengthening the broader strategic partnership between India and the US. Maritime Domain Awareness is of interest in particular. Given the geopolitics of the Asia Pacific, including the Indian Ocean and other maritime spaces, this is an important segment for cooperation both at bilateral level and beyond,” sources privy to New Delhi’s thinking told FE.
Sriharikota became the launchpad for an ambitious space programme that has sent more than 120 satellites into orbit—including for the technologically developed countries like US, Israel and Germany. According to a Bloomberg report, China has been striving to send people farther into space as the Dragon has set its eyes to a bigger slice of the $5.4 billion satellite-launching industry.
India reportedly is competing for commercial launches with space agencies in Europe and Japan, and with private players such as Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and Blue Origin LLC.