[Answered]“ISRO has been one of the best performing Public Sector Undertakings in India. However, an involvement with the private sector can aid high-technology manufacturing in the space sector.” Comment.

Demand of the question

Introduction. Contextual Introduction.

Body. Discuss ISRO’s success as PSU. Howprivate sector can aid high-technology manufacturing in the space sector?

Conclusion. Way forward.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has come a long way since its formation in 1969. It is one of the very few Public sector undertakings that are best performing in India. Whether its launching of 104 satellites from a single rocket, reaching mars in maiden attemptor launching India’s own navigational system, ISRO has successfully achieved various records and achievements time to time.

ISRO’s success as Public sector Undertaking:

  1. ISRO built India’s first satellite, Aryabhata, which was successful launched in 1975.
  2. ISRO sent an unmanned lunar orbiter, Chandrayaan-1, into orbit. The spacecraft was orbiting around the Moon at a height of 100 km from the lunar surface for chemical, mineralogical and photo-geologic mapping of the Moon.
  3. ISRO’s 100th space mission was successfully launched using PSLV-C21 rocket. It also placed two foreign satellites into the earth’s orbit
  4. India launched Mars Orbiter Mission that entered Mars’ orbit making India the first nation to succeed on its maiden attempt to Mars. ISRO became the fourth space agency in the world, as well as the first space agency in Asia, to reach the Mars orbit.
  5. In 2017, ISRO launched 104 satellites in a single rocket (PSLV-C37), a world record.
  6. ISRO launched its heaviest rocket, Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mk III), and placed a communications satellite GSAT-19 into the orbit.
  7. ISRO successfully launched GSAT-29 satellite from Sriharikota, the heaviest satellite weighing at 3,423 kg aims at providing better communication for remote areas of country.

A case for involvement with the private sector to aid high-technology manufacturing in the space:

Although ISRO is best the performing PSU’s, there are some failures like failure of second moon missionChandrayaan-2 to do a soft landing on the moon’s south polar region and of IRNSS-1H. These failures are normal and negligible as space is not easy to conquer, but private sector involvement could not only reduce such failures but would also help in high-technology manufacturing in the space sector as follow:

  1. Greater pool of resources: Public resources- land, labour, capital are limited. Private sector participation will open new pool of resources and talent. It will bring more funding, and experience into space exploration activities.
  2. Human Capital: Restricting space activities to ISRO, limits proper utilisation of talent all over the country. With demographic dividend, private sector participation can exploit the talent across the nation contributing a lot to space explorations in India.
  3. More time for ISRO: Today every space mission is done by ISRO, whether its communication satellite or any weather monitoring satellite. With increased role of private player, ISRO can concentrate more on its pathbreaking innovations like Reusable PSLVs, Cryogenic rockets, mars inhabitation.
  4. Technological advancement: Commercialisation will also develop better technologies which is important. It will allow integration of many other technologies like artificial intelligence into space exploration activities. With experience from space activities, private sector can increase role of technology in other areas.
  5. Risk Sharing: Every launch consists Risk. Privatising helps in sharing the risk of cost factor. Failure costs will be distributed. Also with increased private participation, failures will reduce due to increased available human capital and mind. Joint venture brings the knowledge from various stakeholders minimises failures and increases productivity.
  6. Commercial demand:There is need to enhance internet connectivity for the masses, which is another demand pull factor for increased commercial interest in space. Asteroid mining is also another potential area that looks promising, with scope for monetisation and disrupting commodity markets.
  7. Employment: This would lead to creation of new jobs in the high-skilled-labour market in the private space industry and reversal of brain-drain from the country.

Developing a space industry ecosystem involving private sector will support the rise of Space 2.0 in the country has the potential to make space the next big technological leap in the country after information technology and bio-technology. There is immense scope to create further synergy in the Indian space sector by rejuvenating government policies, technological capability building, workforce skill development and regulatory framework.

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