India’s efforts to boost its space industry by involving private companies

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Source: The post India’s efforts to boost its space industry by involving private companies has been created, based on the article “Private production of the LVM3 could yield a space sector boom” published in “Live mints” on 13th June 2024

UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 3-science and technology- Awareness in the fields of Space

Context: The article discusses how the retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle led to growth in the U.S. private space sector and compares it to India’s current efforts to boost its space industry by involving private companies in producing rockets like the LVM3.

For detailed information on Indian Space Policy 2023 and its significance read this article here

What happened when NASA retired the Space Shuttle?

  1. End of the Space Shuttle Program: NASA retired the Space Shuttle in 2011, which had been used for 30 years to carry astronauts and satellites and to help build the International Space Station (ISS).
  2. Lack of Immediate Replacement: Initially, there was no direct substitute for the Space Shuttle, causing NASA to rely on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft for transporting astronauts to the ISS.
  3. Rise of Private Sector: The retirement opened opportunities for private companies like SpaceX. This shift resulted in the development of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, which launched from US soil in 2020, ending a nine-year gap in US crewed space launches.
  4. Cost Reductions and Innovation: The transition allowed NASA to focus on more ambitious missions and fostered innovation in the private sector, significantly reducing launch costs by 95% and enhancing spacecraft capabilities.

What is India doing in space?

  1. Similar to the U.S., India is shifting some space responsibilities from its government space agency, ISRO, to private companies.
  2. This includes making rockets like the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), and Launch Vehicle Mark-III (LVM3).

3.The goal is to make ISRO focus on more advanced projects like human spaceflight and a new generation of launch vehicles.

What impact could this have for India?

  1. Enhancing Launch Capabilities: By involving private companies, ISRO aims to increase its annual production of LVM3 rockets from two to six. This increase is intended to meet the rising global demand for launch services.
  2. Cost Reduction: By involving the private sector, India aims to reduce the costs associated with space missions, similar to how the U.S. reduced launch costs by 95% during the post-Space Shuttle era through innovations like reusable spacecraft.
  3. Boost in Innovation: The transfer of LVM3 production to private companies is expected to spur innovation, leading to upgrades in rocket technology and making the space industry more competitive globally.

Question for practice:

Discuss how the retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle led to the growth of the U.S. private space sector and compare it to India’s current strategy of involving private companies.

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