Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 15 July 2023
- Space Exploration with Reusable Launch Vehicles
- Strengthening India-France Ties
Space Exploration with Reusable Launch Vehicles
- The utilisation of reusable launch vehicles for rockets is a goal shared by space agencies worldwide, with the potential to save millions of dollars for taxpayers.
- On November 15, 2018, a SpaceX Falcon 9 Reusable rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying a Qatari communications satellite.
- On April 2, 2023, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully completed the landing experiment of the Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration (RLV-TD) programme, moving one step closer to a fully reusable launch vehicle.
- The landing experiment was carried out by ISRO at the Challakere Aeronautical Test Range in Chitradurga. An Indian Air Force (IAF) Chinook aircraft dropped the RLV from a height of 4.5 km. In order to make a solid landing, the vehicle autonomously executed approach and landing manoeuvres on the runway in circumstances similar to those encountered by a re-entry vehicle from space that would return at a high rate of speed and without human input. As part of its goal to offer affordable access to space, ISRO is working to construct a fully reusable launch vehicle, and the test’s success is yet another major step in that direction.
GS 3: Awareness in the field of space, Developments in Science and Technology
How do reusable launch vehicles operate, and what steps is ISRO taking to make its launch vehicles fully reusable? (250 Words)
A reusable launch vehicle is what?
Reusable launch vehicles (RLVs) are rockets built with parts that can be recovered and used again for different missions, greatly lowering the cost of space launches. Although the rocket stages are the main focus of reusability, smaller components like engines and boosters can also be reused. By lowering the cost and increasing the sustainability of access to space, this technology has the potential to completely transform the space sector.
Has anyone ever utilised RLVs before?
- The creation and application of reusable launch vehicles is being actively pursued by numerous space agencies and businesses. Elon Musk launched SpaceX, which has been at the cutting edge of this technology. Their Falcon 9 rockets have often safely landed and been reused. As of May 19, 2023, 220 launches, 178 landings, and 155 re-flights had been accomplished by Falcon 9 first stages.
- Another well-known space business, Blue Origin, has made major strides in reusable technology. Their suborbital-flight-capable New Shepard spaceship has made successful landings after ascending to great heights.
- The European Space Agency (ESA), the United Launch Alliance (ULA), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are further organisations engaged in the study and development of reusable launch systems.
ISRO’s goal of giving affordable access to space is consistent with its vision of a fully reusable launch vehicle. Reusable technology has the potential to lower the cost and increase the sustainability of space missions by minimising the need to produce new parts for each launch. It may create new possibilities for business endeavours, scientific study, and extraterrestrial exploration.
The development of reusable launch vehicles has enormous potential to revolutionise the space sector. Reusable technology can significantly lower the cost of entering space, creating new possibilities for academic study, business endeavours, and exploration outside of Earth’s atmosphere. Reusable rocket stage technology has already been proven to be feasible by businesses like SpaceX and Blue Origin, and ISRO’s success with the RLV-TD programme reflects the rising interest in this technology on a worldwide scale. Reusable launch vehicles have the potential to improve accessibility, sustainability, and economic viability to space, thereby spurring innovation and development in the space exploration industry.
ISRO currently operates four launch vehicles:
- Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV): The PSLV is a flexible launch vehicle that can be used to launch all three types of payloads, including navigation, geo-stationary, and earth observation satellites.
- Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV): Equipped with an indigenous cryogenic upper stage, GSLV has made it possible to launch communication satellites up to a 2-ton class.
- Launch Vehicle Mark-III (LVM3): The LVM3 is a next-generation launch vehicle that can deliver 10-tonne payloads to LEOs as well as 4-tonne class communication satellites.
To address the small satellite launch market’s need, the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) is being developed with completely indigenous technologies.
Strengthening India-France Ties
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of India’s oldest strategic partnership, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a guest of honour at the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris. For India and France’s bilateral relationship, the visit is quite significant.
GS Paper 2 – International Relations
How has the strategic alliance between France and India influenced India’s defence capabilities and strengthened defence cooperation? Examine the import of French defence purchases, such as the Rafale fighters and Scorpene submarines. (150 Words)
History of Relations between India and France
- French doctor François Bernier treated Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in the 17th century.
- The final colonial nation to engage in trade with India was France. They didn’t do so until the seventeenth century, several years after the English and the Dutch made forays into India for commercial gain.
- The French arrived as traders but had higher objectives than all other colonial powers at that time. In 1664, the French East India Company was established.
- They began interfering in the subcontinent’s domestic politics and used their position to their advantage. The English eventually became the dominant force on the Indian subcontinent, despite their early failures and ability to establish commercial ports.
- The French were left with a few scattered possessions, collectively known as French India. These locations included Chandannagar, Pondicherry, Mahe, Yanam, and Karaikal.Many Indian freedom activists sought sanctuary in French India during the fight against the British, including Aurobindo Ghosh and Subramanya Bharathi.
- France forged diplomatic ties with an independent India in 1947.
- Both nations signed a document in 1948 stating that the people of French India had the right to freely select their political future.
- According to the 1956 Treaty of Cession, the French relinquished all of their property in India to the Indian government in August 1962. As a result, the Union Territory of Puducherry was used to administrate the former French possessions.
Trade and Commerce:
With annual trade reaching $12.42 billion in 2021–22, France has emerged as a significant trading partner for India. It contributes $10.31 billion to foreign investment in India, which places it 11th overall. Different industries are involved in the economic cooperation between the two nations.
France is now India’s second-largest supplier of defence equipment. The introduction of French Scorpene submarines and the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter planes by the Indian Air Force are notable defence partnerships. Joint military drills and active military-to-military interaction further solidify the defence relations.
Climate change initiative
Initiatives to combat climate change are a key area of cooperation between France and India. They were crucial in the 2015 launch of the International Solar Alliance. They just ratified a Road Map on Green Hydrogen, which aims to create a trustworthy and long-lasting value chain for an international supply of decarbonized hydrogen.
Engagement in the Indo-Pacific:
The two nations have collaborated to create a “Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region” and conduct joint naval drills. To maintain security in the area, they have also established a trilateral alliance with the United Arab Emirates.
Importance of Visit:
- During Prime Minister Modi’s visit, it’s anticipated that agreements or announcements would be made on the purchase of defence equipment, such as the co-production of Scorpene submarines and the purchase of Rafale-M aircraft for the Indian Navy. Compared to deals with other countries, these deals with France frequently have fewer restrictions and are more predictable.
- India and France both place a high emphasis on their strategic autonomy and strive for independence in their foreign policies. While recognising the significance of the United States in the larger global context, they also advocate for a multipolar world order.
The visit takes place at a time when Europe is becoming more cognizant of the geopolitical relevance of India. The Prime Minister will have the chance to learn how France and Europe see recent geopolitical developments and be ready for the G20 summit’s consensus-building process.
Prime Minister Modi’s trip to France reinforces the two nations’ long-standing alliance. It creates opportunities for collaboration on trade, defence, climate change, and participation in the Indo-Pacific. India’s commitment to a multipolar international order and its presence in the area are both strengthened by the visit.