1. Discuss how Chandrayaan 2 mission positions India with respect to the global space industry
2. What challenges do we still face wrt benefitting from the space industry and related opportunities
3. Suggest steps to rectify the same. Also, project a future of the space industry.
On 2 September, the Vikram lander separated and began to make its descent. All communications were normal until the lander was within 2km of its goal. Then it went silent. So far, the ISRO engineers have not been able to reestablish communications with the lander. It’s likely Vikram landed with enough force to damage its communications equipment, as well as other instruments.
Chandrayaan – 2:
- Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second mission (after Chandrayaan-1) to the moon and comprised a fully indigenous Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover (Pragyan).
- The mission aimed to expand our knowledge and understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon through a detailed study of its topography, mineralogy, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics, and atmosphere.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MISSION:
- While the Chandrayaan 2 mission has not gone as expected, it cannot be called a failure.
- The Chandrayaan 2 orbiter will continue to monitor the Moon for up to seven years and the high-resolution images it takes will be vital to future international efforts to land on the Moon.
- The near success of Vikram’s landing should be celebrated. It took the United States and Russia decades to design, plan and execute missions to the Moon. In fact, the ISRO was founded shortly after the successful Apollo 11 mission. We should applaud the hard work India has done over the past 50 years to get this far.
- Quest for Water: It aims to map the extent and distribution of water on the Moon. According to ISRO scientists, a sample of “primeval water” could pave the way for major findings on the origin of water on the Moon. With wider explorations of the solar system in the years ahead, especially from manned missions, the Moon could form the base for fuel, oxygen and other critical raw materials.
- Cost-Effective: Unlike other moon missions, the Chandrayaan-2 weighing 3.8 tonnes is extremely cost-effective, with a total estimated cost of 978 crore— 603 crore for the space segment and 375 crores for the launch. The space segment includes an orbiter, a lander and a rover (Pragyan). Chandrayaan-1, with an orbiter and an impactor, cost only 386 crores.
- High-Tech Leap: This is the first time that a spacecraft that has been indigenously developed by ISRO would set foot on lunar soil. Both the lander and the rover have been designed and fabricated by Indian scientists with a contribution by various research institutes.
- The mission is a major capability boost for India in its plans to conceive even more complex undertakings to nearby and distant planets and other bodies of the solar system, like the crewed mission, Gaganyaan.
- Women Power: Chandrayaan 2 marks the first time an Indian space mission is being led by women scientists. Muthayya Vanithahas helmed the mission from the start as a project director. After Monday’s successful launch, the mission will be carried forward by mission director RituKaridhal, who will navigate the module towards the Moon.
- Space agencies, astronauts, scientists and top leaders from across the world applauded the Isro for its attempt to reach the darker side of the Moon where no one has managed to go till now.
- While NASA is not directly participating in this mission, the measurements taken by Chandrayaan-2 could be a help for future lunar missions.
Today, the value of the global space industry is estimated to be $350 billion and is likely to exceed $550 billion by 2025. But there remain bottlenecks-
- Absence of Heavy rocket launchers, too few launch facilities, and bureaucratic
delays hamper the growth of India’s space industry.
- A small number of launches limit the growth potential of private companies that supply them.
- Cost-effectiveness is an issue with a large number of private entities eg Sapcex coming into launch payloads and for which the competition becoming intense.
- The bottleneck situation for ISRO is that it has two launch pads and only has one vehicle assembly. According to Dr K. Sivan, the new areas of focus for ISRO are as follows:
- Reusable launch vehicle: It is also developing the technologies for a future reusable launch vehicle.
- Addition in numbers of satellites: India has 43 satellites in space and to meet the present national requirement, India needs an equal number of satellites in addition.
- Increasing the launch frequency: The frequency of launches must definitely increase. For that, ISRO has set 18 launches per year as the target.
- A healthier budget: More satellites are required to be put in orbit and they need more launch vehicles. For that, much more money is needed on the launch vehicle side, spacecraft side and on the infrastructure side. Absence of Heavy rocket launchers, too few launch facilities, and bureaucratic delays hamper the growth of India’s space industry. The need is mastery over GSLV.
- Public-private association: This year, the priority would be to allow a public-private consortium to build the PSLV rocket, which would be launched by 2021. ISRO has to hasten the effort to bring in private players into satellite and rocket building, to replicate India’s software success in aerospace.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)’s success has made India to be inducted in an elite group of countries, where India is rightfully acknowledged as a space power in the world.