Why in news?
Recently, India’s first privately developed launch vehicle, Vikram-S, blasted off on its maiden flight from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Sriharikota. It was developed by a private startup Skyroot Aerospace under the guidance of ISRO.
VIKRAM-S: MISSION PRARAMBH- India’s First Private Space Launch
- Prarambh is the mission’s name of Vikram-S, a single-stage suborbital space launch vehicle of Skyroot
- It is India’s leading SpaceTech startup and a two-time national award-winning space launch vehicle company, with a mission to Open Space for
- Prarambh means the beginning, signifying a new era for the private space sector in India and the first mission for
- The synergy between Skyroot, ISRO, and the Space regulator IN-SPACe forms the bedrock of success for this
- The company is designing three Vikram rockets that will use various solid and cryogenic fuels to carry between 290 kg and 560 kg payloads to sun-synchronous polar
- Vikram-I can carry 480 kilograms of payload to Low Earth It will be powered by a Kalam engine.
- Vikram-II is equipped to lift off with 595 kilograms of
- Vikram-III can launch with 815 kg to 500 km Low Inclination
- Vikram-S is a single-stage solid fuel rocket meant to test nearly 80 percent of all systems and processes before the launch of Vikram-1 scheduled for next
- It is a single-stage sub-orbital launch vehicle, that carried three customer payloads, and helps test and validate technologies in the Vikram series space launch
- Sub-orbital flights are those vehicles that are travelling slower than the orbital velocity, meaning it is fast enough to reach outer space but not fast enough to stay in an orbit around the
- Vikram-S is powered by solid-fuelled propulsion, cutting-edge avionics, and an all-carbon fibre core
- The Vikram-S will help test and validate the majority of the technologies in the Vikram series of orbital class space launch vehicles, including many sub-systems and
- It carried three satellites, including one by SpaceKidz India called FunSat, parts of which were developed by school
- It is a 6-meter gall, weighing 550 kg, and hits a peak altitude of 5 kilometers.
- Peak velocity capability greater than MACH 5 [Hypersonic]
WHY IT IS SIGNIFICANT?
- Privately built – It is the first privately built Indian rocket to make it to
- Heralding a new era for India – Important milestone in India’s outer space journey where the space sector was opened up in 2020 to facilitate private sector
- Quickest and most affordable ride to
- Joined International groupings – Global participants such as Galactic Virginia, Space-X, and Blue Origin are the global private
- Space tourism – India can also venture into space tourism and this is a first step in that
- Symbol of change – It signals that the Indian space sector is undergoing a major transformation by roping in the private sector in its way of space exploration and
- Joint exploration – Earlier, the space sector was considered the monopoly of the government, but now talented manpower available in the country could be used for joint
- Tribute to Vikram Sarabhai – Launch vehicles are named ‘Vikram’ as a tribute to the founder of the Indian space programme and renowned scientist Vikram
- It will incentivize many other private players to come forward and it would completely change the ecosystem of the space sector.
GENESIS OF THE INDIAN SPACE PROGRAM
- The Indian space program began with the establishment of the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) in 1962, with Sarabhai as Chairman.
- As part of it, Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) was started near
- The launch of the first US-made sounding rocket ‘Nike Apache’ from Thumba on
November 21, 1963, turned the initial steps for space sector developments.
- In 1967, India started launching indigenously developed sounding rockets named Rohini from
- The India Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was established in 1969, and the Department of Space was established in
- The Aryabhata spacecraft was India’s first satellite which was completely designed and fabricated in India and launched by a Soviet Kosmos-3M rocket from Kapustin Yar on April 19,
- From Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), then to Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV), and now with Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geo- Stationery Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), the Indian space research program has achieved long strings of achievements in its long
- In the initial phase, the development of the Vikas engine (a portmanteau from the initials of Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai), a family of liquid fuelled rocket engines added thrust to its successful
- However, with the collapse of the USSR, international sanctions, and Russia’s refusal in transferring technology, India has for years been trying to develop its own cryogenic rocket engines that are designed to put heavier satellites into high
- In 2014, India succeeded in launching indigenous cryogenic rockets with
- After that the growth of ISRO was fascinating and keenly followed by global
CURRENT STATUS OF THE INDIAN SPACE SECTOR
- With 1990 reforms, the country experienced a shift from a state-led economy to a state and private people-led
- Commercialization of ISRO services – ISRO entered the lucrative industry of launching foreign payloads from Indian soil using its own rockets which would augment India’s forex
- Presently, the global space industry is valued at 400 billion US dollars and is set to touch $1 trillion by 2040. While India’s share is 2% of the total value. i.e., 8 billion
- The private sector has a big role to play to increase its
- India needs to increase its total share in the space sector so that we can push the overall growth of the economy, create more job opportunities and also create technological solutions to various problems faced by the
- Thus Private sector participation is necessary for making India a thriving space
- At present, India is manufacturing GSLVs weighing around 640 tonnes from foreign-aided space research Nike Apache weighing just 760
Launch Vehicles developed by ISRO — GSLV, PSLV, and SSLV Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV)
- It is the smallest launch vehicle and weighs only 110
- It is reported that the SSLV has a height of 34 meters and has three solid
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)
- It is the third-generation launch vehicle of It is the first Indian launch vehicle to be equipped with liquid stages.
- PSLV is designed mainly to deliver the “earth-observation” or “remote-sensing” satellites with a lift-off mass of up to about 1750 Kg to Sun-Synchronous circular polar orbits of 600-900 Km
- The vehicle successfully launched two spacecraft – Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 and Mars Orbiter Spacecraft in 2013 – that later sent to Moon and Mars
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)
- GSLV is a space launch vehicle used to place satellites and other spacecraft into geosynchronous transfer
- Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark II (GSLV Mk II) is the largest launch vehicle developed by India, which is currently in
- This fourth-generation launch vehicle is a three-stage vehicle with four liquid straps-on.
- The indigenously developed cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS), which is flight proven, forms the third stage of GSLV Mk
APPLICATIONS OF SPACE TECHNOLOGY
- Communication Satellites – The INSAT system provides services such as telecommunications, satellite newsgathering, information related to weather forecasting & disaster warning,
- Earth Observation Satellites – Satellites like Cartosat-2 Series, RESOURCESAT- 2A, etc. provide information covering agriculture, water resources, urban planning, rural development,
- Remote sensing – Exploration of various mineral and natural resources has been possible through remote
- Meteorological services – It provides information about monsoons, floods, cyclonic activities,
- Disaster management – Weather prediction helps in mitigating the cyclone, eliminating or having very minimal
- Spread of education – Expertise in education has been made possible with the help of the INSAT-3D
- Strategic applications – Providing the utilities like positioning, navigation, and timing E.g. – Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN)
CONCERNS ASSOCIATED WITH THE PRESENT SPACE SECTOR
- The whole technologies and applications of space technologies were confined under one umbrella called
- Lack of an integrated space policy – India does have some sector-specific policies, such as those related to satellite communications and remote sensing
- Industry is unsatisfied, complaining that the policies do not detail how the government will partner with commercial
- Though private parties are interested, a conducive ecosystem is not yet developed to capitalize on the know-how of private
- Working in silos – ISRO is around 70%–80% reliant on private sector contractors for components and services such as Larsen & Toubro, Walchandnagar Industries, and Godrej, with Tata Aerospace gaining
DOES THE COUNTRY NEED A DIFFERENT DIRECTION IN THE SPACE SECTOR?
- Ever-growing demand – The demand for space-based applications and services is growing within India, and ISRO is unable to cater to
- Wider applications – The need for satellite data, imageries, and space technology now cut across sectors, from weather to agriculture to transport to urban development and more. Therefore, private sector investment is critical, for which a suitable policy environment needs to be
- Need for Investments – In order to scale up operations, investment has to come from the private
- Increasing vulnerabilities – India has to focus much on the security applications of outer space after China’s first anti-satellite (ASAT) missile test. So, there is a need to have private participation to distribute our space capabilities across different satellites and spacecraft to manage any adversary
- Diversification – India has strong possibilities to emerge as a big player in space tourism and space
- Synergy – Close collaboration of scientific and technological bureaucracy & political leadership would be helpful to create a
- Pooling of resources – Private sector helps in sharing the pool of resources, talent, and human capital and can utilize the ISRO infrastructures, equipment, and other
- Continued use of foreign application – The continued reliance on the US’s GPS
despite having an indigenous Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS)
/ NavIC is a wake-up call for India to leverage its private sector potential to its fullest potential.
BENEFITS OF UNLOCKING THE SPACE SECTOR
- There are immense potential lies in the space sector that can be explored for the benefit of the common man as well as the
- The facilitating and enabling attitude of the government is signalling a modernized and new space organizational structure and
- The new space culture is open, with the freedom to innovate that in turn encourages private sector
- Participation of private players will enhance the wider application of space services. g.- sector-specific, organ-specific, or region-specific satellites
- Private participation will also enhance the reach of the space sector. i.e., many private players come up with innovative startups to provide space services at the doorstep of the common
Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre – (IN-SPACe)
- It acts as an oversight and regulatory
- It will act as an interface between ISRO and private parties and assess how best to
utilize India’s space resources and increase space-based activities.
- It is responsible for devising mechanisms to offer sharing of technology, expertise, and facilities free of cost to promote Non-Government Private Entities (NGPEs).
- It Is mandated the task of promoting, authorizing, and licensing private players to carry out space
New Space India Ltd (NSIL)
- It is a public sector company that would serve as a marketing arm of
- It is mandated to transfer the matured technologies developed by the ISRO to Indian i.e., to market the technologies developed by ISRO and bring more clients that need space-based services.
Other private players in the space sector
- Agnikul Cosmos tested its semi-cryogenic Agnilet
- Bellatrix Aerospace
- Space Kidz India
- ISRO’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicles (SSLV) are also likely to be manufactured and operated by private players
- Establish a new Space law – The New Space-specific law should meet both demand side and supply side concerns and
- Enable and promote private enterprises to carry out independent space activities by enabling ease of business through single-window mechanisms, with predictable
- Open up ISRO Infrastructure and
- Inspire Youngsters and dreamers – Encouraging students to pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).
Recently, our Prime Minister said, “There should be no ‘space’ between common man and space technology”. The Private sector has the potential to boost India’s space programme globally. The need of the hour is to unlock the Space Sector on the path to Atmanirbhar Bharat so as to revolutionize the delivery of governance and boost developmental efforts.