Vikram-S launch

Source– The post is based on the articles “The Vikram-S launch opens exciting possibilities for space exploration in India” published in The Indian Express and “The Skyroot Of Our Final Frontier” published in The Times of India on 19th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS3- Awareness in the field of space

Relevance: Participation of private sector in space exploration

News- The article explains the importance of the private sector in manufacturing quick launch capabilities for small satellites.

What is the potential of the Indian private sector in the space sector?

India has more than 350 private firms in the space sector making it the fifth-largest in the world in this respect after the US, UK, Canada and Germany. But the country’s share in the global space economy is barely 3%.

According to this year’s Economic Survey, the country’s space regulator has received close to 40 proposals from the private sector and the academia for activities ranging from manufacturing launch vehicles to earth observation applications.

Other private firms are close to emulating Skyroot. Agnikula Cosmos, a Chennai-based start-up, is planning the commercial launch of its rocket Agnibaan in the first quarter of next year.

What are the steps taken by the government to increase private sector participation?

The government intends to increase the country’s share in the global space economy to 10 per cent by 2030.

In June 2020, it approved the participation of private players in all sectors of space activity.

It also instituted the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre, a unit of ISRO, to enable private companies to become independent players.

What is the utility of small satellites?

Small satellites can be assembled today in less than a week at a fraction of the cost of conventional satellites.

Currently, ISRO launches less than ten rockets each year. India must hit double-digit launches each year to stay competitive with its peers.

Small rockets allow light payloads weighing 500 kg or less to be placed precisely in preferred orbits.

What are the advantages of rapid launch capabilities?

A decade ago, rapid and tactical space launch capabilities were considered extremely difficult to acquire due to the high costs of constructing rockets. They are now a reality because of innovations like 3D printing of components and carbon-fibre body construction.

The primary use is for military purposes. During a conflict with an adversary, India’s communications assets might be destroyed by an adversary’s offensive cyberattacks, kinetic kill capabilities or directed energy weapons.

This would be requiring quick replacement. In such cases, accessing reliable rockets launched on short notice becomes a strategic necessity.

Other use cases could include the deployment of small satellites for surveillance of borders during a crisis.

For small satellites, we can not rely on vehicles designed for satellites weighing around 1500 kg to launch these satellites.

At present ISRO’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle is the only rocket in the small launch vehicle range capable of delivering a payload of up to 500 kg into orbit. But its tech demonstration mission earlier this year failed.

SSLV is a three-stage rocket powered by solid rocket motors. But having a solid propellant rocket for quick response comes with limitations. We need more innovative launch vehicles.

What is the way forward?

Private sector participation is necessary for making India a thriving space power.

GoI must remain consistent with its current policy to achieve its goals.

Developing an ecosystem for private players will not be possible without ISRO’s support. In the US, NASA still reserves a part of its budget for such enterprises.

There is a need for close collaboration between India’s premier space research institution and private players.

Print Friendly and PDF