ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[op-ed snap] Outer clarity


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PSLV. ASAT

Mains level : There is a need to regulate outer space and prohibit its militarisaton.


India’s Recent Achievements in Space

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation’s successful April 1 launch of the PSLV-C45 rocket that placed 29 satellites in three different orbits is remarkable both for the complex set of multi-tasking the mission accomplished and for the timing.
  • Coming three days after ISRO and the Defence Research and Development Organisation knocked out a satellite in a Low Earth Orbit with a direct hit.
  • It would appear that the Indian space programme stands galvanised and poised for a giant leap.

Past Achievements

  • The dexterity with which so many satellites, most of them American, were placed in three different orbits certainly showcases both the reliability and the expertise that ISRO offers.
  • This is not a new development.
  • Cost Effective-In February 2017, the PSLV-C37 placed 104 satellites, 96 of them from the U.S., in one go, a testimony to ISRO’s ability to launch satellites at a fraction of the cost that other countries incur.
  • Equally important, just as the February 2017 launch also placed the fifth of the Cartosat 2 series in orbit, an earth observation satellite with cameras that have a resolution of less than a metre, the PSLV-C45 placed EMISAT, which can, among other things, aid in electronic intelligence.

Need For formulating Space Programme

  • India is assiduously putting in place a space military architecture.
  • That is precisely why the government should articulate much more clearly the doctrinal aspects of the space programme, as well as the deterrence sought to be achieved by it.
  • India must communicate its peaceful intentions just as it showcases its capabilities, so as to contribute to a better understanding among countries it hopes to deter and thereby reduce the chances of wrong inferences being drawn in crisis situations.
  • After all, missiles are but one aspect of space warfare.
  • There are other, less visible but equally effective methods to incapacitate satellites that are being developed and are of equally serious concern.

Present global space architecture

  • There is no global regulatory regime to address the growing militarisation in space.
  • Last year, at the UN Disarmament Commission, India expressed concern about the “weaponisation” of outer space, and sought collective action to secure space-based assets.
  • In this regulatory vacuum, India has legitimate reasons to develop deterrence for the security of its space-based assets.

Way Forward

  • Equally, New Delhi must take a bigger lead in forging a global and legally binding instrument to prevent militarisation of space.
  • It is encouraging that after the ASAT test, India said it “expects to play a role in the future in the drafting of international law on prevention of an arms race in space”.
  • This is morally and pragmatically in keeping with India’s power projection.
  • Given the prohibitively expensive nature of space projects, India and other countries must utilise the increased presence in space to legitimately advance the well-being of their people.


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