What is India’s plan to have its own space station and how will it benefit our space programme? (10 Marks)

Mentors Comments:

  • It’s a straightforward question.
  • In the intro, mention the decision of ISRO having its own Space Station. Also, mention which other nations have their space stations or are planning to have one.
  • In the 1st part of the answer, briefly mention some aspects of the proposed Indian Space Station.
  • Then discuss how it will benefit our space program and what are the benefits of it.
  • Mention a few challenges in the 2nd part of the answer along with some suggestions.
  • Conclude with optimism.


Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is planning to launch its own space station. India would be the fourth country to launch a space station as the US and Russia have already launched their space stations and China is planning to launch it in 2020. The International Space Station (ISS), which launched its first piece in 1998, is a large spacecraft that orbits around the Earth and is home to the astronauts. The ISS is currently the only active space station in the earth’s orbit.

The Indian Space Station

  • A space station is an artificial satellite placed in orbit and is used as a long-term base for manned operations in space.
  • The Indian space station would be stationed at an altitude of 400 kilometers from Earth.
  • The proposed Indian space station would be similar to the International Space Station (ISS) but smaller in size weighing about 20 tonnes and would take another 5 to 7 seven years to construct.
  • The preliminary plan for the space station is to accommodate astronauts for up to 15-20 days in space but specific details will emerge after the Gaganyaan Mission is complete. 
  • There will be no collaboration with any other country for this project. 
  • The space station will most likely be used to conduct microgravity experiments.

How will Indian Space Station benefit our space program:

  • Constructing a space station after being able to safely orbit a crew in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is a natural progression that many advanced space-faring countries have pursued to expand their space capabilities. 
  • The announcement by ISRO also falls in line with such a progression.
  • These foundations should provide leverage to further carry out larger scale and precision experiments in space to cement the know-how required for human-rated vehicle transfers in orbit. 
  • The major technical leap required to establish a space station beyond simply having these capabilities is in the ability to also carry larger payloads into space and achieving the ability to precisely rendezvous and dock spacecraft to a space station in orbit. 
  • This will allow scaling up of infrastructure on orbit – a must to provide more room for astronauts to live and carry out experiments over longer time frames.
  • Though India has the option of joining the ISS, rather than making its own space station, it will not have enough significance for India. This is because the ISS is now in the last leg of its existence and is expected to become redundant from 2024-28. 
  • In the heyday of the ISS also, India could not have been a part of the ISS since it was excluded from such projects because of Delhi’s nuclear policy.
  • Further, owning a space station will offer the Indian scientific community a range of subjects to conduct research in, from astronomy and meteorology to biology and medicine. 
  • Also, the material is one arena where India should make major investments. Breakthroughs in this field would have major commercial and strategic benefits.


  • From a budgetary standpoint, the project proposal shall estimate the cost of India’s space station. 
  • This shall be made after the Ganganyaan project for the approval from the government. This may pose important challenges to the Indian Space Station Project.
  • The ISS which spreads as long as a football field and costs $3 billion a year (Rs. 20,000 crores) for NASA alone in maintenance and has exceeded more than $100 billion (Rs. 6,50,000 crore) in assembling it. 
  • Finances of such magnitude is very difficult to provide for any Indian space research project in the near future.
  • Further, ISRO’s project proposal for such a space station will require a plan to upgrade the payload carrying capacity of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mark III), which is going to carry Indian astronauts into space as a part of Gaganyaan), by a considerable magnitude.

Way forward:

  • To keep the cost as a smaller multiple of the Gaganyaan project, ISRO could well choose such strategies to limit the architecture of the space station and the goals to be achieved on orbit. 
  • Apart from that, India can involve the private sector in such projects. Recently, NASA has declared that the ISS would be open for commercial business and people could “purchase” a ticket to visit the ISS. 
  • India could think of developing such projects under a public-private partnership model.

From successful lunar missions and multiple satellite launches, ISRO believes it has reached a technological point where it can create a more dynamic space program. More advanced operations in space would reflect India’s overall growth as a tech breeding ground where innovations are happening at a rapid pace. While the plan for an Indian space station within 10 years seems ambitious, India is increasingly becoming a potent tech player and is well-placed for its plans to become a reality.

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