Successful debut for India’s first private rocket Vikram-S: Important step for India, says expert | The Financial Express

Successful debut for India’s first private rocket Vikram-S: Important step for India, says expert

India is attempting to improve its present 2 per cent share of the global commercial space sector.

Successful debut for India’s first private rocket Vikram-S: Important step for India, says expert
The launcher reached an altitude of 89.5 km above sea level, just below the line of 90 km, which marks the boundary of space according to the international convention. (Photo: ISRO/Twitter)

India’s private space sector passes its first test. The half-ton Vikram-S rocket took off last Friday before carrying out an arc trajectory. Six minutes later, the rocket sank safely into the sea. The launcher reached an altitude of 89.5 km above sea level, just below the line of 90 km, which marks the boundary of space according to the international convention.

This launch, carried out from the facilities of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on the island of Sriharikota constitutes an important step for India, which intends to become a leading space power.

In general, the rocket can launch loads weighing up to 83 kg to a height of up to 100 km. Given the characteristics of the rocket, it is likely that its launch is quite cheap, but the company needs to provide such data. At the same time, Skyroot Aerospace has attracted US$68 million in investments over the four years of its existence.

India allows private entrepreneurs to manufacture and launch rockets by creating the friendly and conducive conditions. The annual budget of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has surpassed Rs 10,000 crores (US$1.45 billion) and is increasing. However, India’s need for space-based services significantly exceeds what ISRO can supply.

India is attempting to improve its present 2 per cent share of the global commercial space sector. It creates a cost-effective model by duplicating and adapting existing technology. ISRO deployed 36 broadband satellites into low orbit in October. In addition, it intends a first human-crewed trip with Russia and France in 2023 or 2024.

Therefore, “private sector investment is essential, and a conducive policy environment must be established,” opines an expert.

The expanding importance of Indian private industry in space

“Private sector participation is necessary for the expansion of the space sector as a whole. ISRO has a close relationship with the industry, especially with Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) such as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and significant private sector organisations such as Larsen & Toubro. The role of private industries should be increased,” says Girish Linganna, Aerospace and Defence Analyst.

According to him, “The most fundamental method for securing our space capabilities is to divide them across numerous satellites and spacecraft so that continuity is maintained even if an attacker disables one or more of our satellites. For instance, the United States is extremely vulnerable in space due to its reliance on thousands of satellites. However, it is also best able to deal with a potential attack on its space assets due to its ability to transition to alternative assets.”

Elon Musk’s “SpaceX” and high-profile initiatives have brought to light the growing importance of private actors in the space industry.

Despite India’s numerous strategic, security, and legal constraints, a modest private ecosystem has developed around ISRO.

“A greater pool of resources Public resources, including land, labours, and capital, are scarce. The participation of the private sector will create a fresh reservoir of resources and talent. It will bring additional funds and experience into space exploration initiatives,” he opines.

According to him, restricting space activities to ISRO hinders the proper exploitation of talent all around the country. With the demographic dividend, private sector participation may capitalise on the nation’s talent, significantly enhancing India’s space endeavours.

The commercialisation of innovations will also result in the development of superior technologies that are crucial. It will enable incorporation of numerous additional technologies, such as artificial intelligence, into space exploration efforts. With the knowledge gained through space activities, the private sector can expand the use of technology in other fields.

Each launch has numerous risks. The private sector shares cost factor risk. Failure expenses will be allocated. Also, with increased private engagement, failures will decrease due to more available human capital and intellect.

The general public needs to improve internet access, which is another demand-pulling cause for growing business interest in space. Asteroid mining is yet another interesting area with the potential for monetisation and disruption of commodity markets.

Issues and Concerns Regarding Private Participation in India’s Space Industry

Although space provides businesses with a chance, ISRO’s raw data in the hands of the public is sensitive and poses a risk of data exploitation or misapplication. Though it is a successful investment, private sector participation regulation is difficult.

Private participation is space sector

According to Linganna, Aerospace and Defence Analyst, “Allowing the private sector to pursue space projects or the launch of any satellite for their own profit may result in lobbying and unfair means.

It may also result in the profit-motivated disclosure of sensitive material by private parties to foreign governments and corporations.

India should establish a separate organisation that can level the playing field between government and private space firms.

India should enact a new space law with the goal of increasing its share of the global space economy to 10 percent within a decade. This will require a new type of partnership between ISRO, the established commercial sector, and the New Space entrepreneurs.”

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First published on: 21-11-2022 at 16:51 IST