India’s foray into space exploration has been truly remarkable. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has made tremendous progress over the years, establishing itself as a prominent player in the global aerospace industry. A shining testament to India’s capabilities is the Chandrayaan mission, which has not only enhanced our knowledge of the Moon but also embodies the vision of a self-reliant India – Atmanirbhar Bharat. The Chandrayaan mission shows that India is capable of developing and launching its own spacecraft, without relying on foreign technology.
India, led by Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi, achieved unprecedented global recognition through its active participation. On August 23, 2023, India accomplished a significant milestone by successfully landing the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft in the Moon’s southern polar region. With this achievement, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) solidified India’s position as a prominent player in the realm of space exploration.
Chandrayaan: Exploring Moon
The Chandrayaan mission is India’s lunar exploration program, comprising two successful missions: Chandrayaan-1 and Chandrayaan-2. Chandrayaan-1, launched in 2008, was India’s maiden mission to the Moon and played a pivotal role in the discovery of water molecules on the lunar surface. This groundbreaking revelation opened up new possibilities for future lunar exploration.
Chandrayaan-2, launched in 2019, was an even more ambitious project, aimed at landing a rover on the Moon’s surface. Although the lander, Vikram, encountered some technical issues and failed to land as planned, the orbiter continues to send valuable data and images, furthering our understanding of Earth’s celestial neighbor. The mission showcased India’s determination to explore uncharted territories and marked a significant milestone in the nation’s aerospace journey. It also opened up new verticals for innovation and new technology applications.
Opening Up of Indian Space Sector
The success of the Chandrayaan missions is not an isolated incident but rather part of a broader trend that underscores India’s rapid rise in the space sector. ISRO’s achievements have garnered global attention, leading to collaborations with space agencies and private companies worldwide. India’s cost-effective yet reliable launch services have made it a preferred partner for launching satellites, cementing its reputation as a reliable player in the global satellite launch market. The global space economy is estimated to be worth $440 billion and India India is renowned internationally for its low-cost satellites and launch vehicles.To enhance India’s part of the global market, the government has begun space sector reforms to encourage, support, regulate, and authorise private businesses and startups to engage in space activities. Startups play a crucial role in India’s space sector, benefiting from favorable policies that facilitate the formulation and development of innovative ideas into tangible products. These initiatives empower startups to contribute towards India’s journey of achieving greater milestones in the global space industry.
Startups have emerged as pivotal players in the dynamic landscape of India’s space sector. Their presence has not only injected fresh ideas and cutting-edge technologies into the industry but has also acted as a catalyst for innovation. These startups are pioneering novel solutions across a spectrum of space applications, encompassing satellites, launch systems, and ground infrastructure. Moreover, they are introducing transformative services that range from satellite imagery and data analytics to the nascent yet promising field of sustainable space manufacturing. Startups are even exploring the potential applications of Biotechnology and Microbiology in space manufacturing, and ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) is lending its support to these initiatives by recognizing the opportunities that lie ahead in the coming years.
Startups are actively engaging in collaborative efforts with ISRO and IN-SPACe. In a historic move, the Union Cabinet, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, made a significant decision in June 2020 to open up the space sector, allowing the active involvement of the Indian private sector in all aspects of space activities. To facilitate this participation, the government established the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) as an independent, single-window agency within the Department of Space (DOS). Positioned as a nodal agency,
IN-SPACe plays a vital role in promoting and advancing the private space sector economy in India. In essence, startups are the vanguards of change in the Indian space sector. They are pioneering advancements that hold the promise of expanding the horizons of space exploration while simultaneously driving economic growth and technological progress. Their presence underscores India’s commitment to being a formidable player in the global space industry.
The future of India’s aerospace industry shines brightly, bolstered by strong government support. The nation boasts a formidable talent pool comprising skilled engineers and scientists, and it is channeling substantial investments into space research and development. In the forthcoming years, India, driven by robust governmental backing, is poised to embark on a series of ambitious missions to explore the Moon, Mars, and extend its reach even further into the cosmos.
Self-Reliance in Space sector: Vision for Atmanirbhar Bharat
The Chandrayaan missions and ISRO’s broader achievements are not just about scientific discovery; they represent a significant step toward realizing the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat, or a self-reliant India. India’s space program has increasingly focused on developing indigenous technologies, reducing dependence on foreign nations, and promoting self-sufficiency. One of the key aspects of this self-reliance is the development of launch vehicles such as the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). These launch vehicles are the backbone of India’s satellite launch capabilities and have significantly reduced the cost of reaching space. With recent advancements like the GSLV Mk III, which can carry heavier payloads, India has strengthened its position as a competitive player in the global satellite launch market.
Chandrayaan: The Future
The aerospace industry in India has received a significant uplift with the successful Chandrayaan mission. This accomplishment has not only raised India’s prominence in the global space community but has also attracted increased investments in the sector. The Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative has further bolstered the growth of India’s aerospace industry. The government’s financial support for research and development, coupled with the encouragement to utilize domestically manufactured components, has been instrumental in this progress. The expansion of India’s aerospace industry is expected to generate new job opportunities and provide a substantial boost to the economy. The country is poised to emerge as a key player in the global space market.
The future of India’s aerospace industry appears promising, driven by a talented workforce and robust government support. With these advantages, India is well positioned to establish itself as a leading nation in space exploration in the years ahead.
As an Indian startup dedicated to the Indian space sector and an active member of the Indian Space Association, our focus lies in developing sustainable space building materials using microbes for extraterrestrial bodies like the Moon and Mars. We strongly believe that the Indian space sector is poised to make a significant global impact in the coming years. As startups, our focus is on building systems that are tenable in decades to come, as this mission has proven that the future is ours to build. The Indian space sector is experiencing rapid growth, presenting numerous investment and business opportunities. Various agencies such as IN-SPACe and ISpA, along with national and international events, are laying the foundation for growth and expanding opportunities within the space sector in India.
The visionary leadership and support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his endeavor to make India a global power cannot be understated, with the space sector playing a vital role in this pursuit.
About the Authors:
Authors are co-founders of an Industrial deep tech Indian startup – Caliche, and have ongoing projects in the space sector. Caliche is a multidisciplinary tech startup with a deep understanding of emerging technologies. It deals with technology development for various disciplines and handles the deployment of novel technologies. Views expressed in the article are those of the authors)