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The Maiden Flight of India’s First Private Launch Vehicle

Context

Vikram-S, India’s first privately developed launch vehicle, is set to take off from the country’s only spaceport in Sriharikota between November 12 and 16.

Relevance

GS Paper 3: Science and technology

Mains Question

ISRO’s role in establishing India as a global space power has been flawless; however, there are numerous challenges and opportunities in the new space age that ISRO must address. Discuss. (250 words)


About ISRO

  • For the past 50 years, India’s space programme has been led by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
  • In terms of technological capabilities, India is one of the world’s top five spacefaring nations.
    • India is known around the world for producing low-cost satellites and launch vehicles.
  • Despite having the most advanced space programme in the world, India’s space sector accounts for only 2-3% of the global space economy.
    • The global space economy is estimated to be worth $440 billion USD.
  • To increase India’s share of global business, the government has initiated space sector reforms to promote, assist, regulate, and authorise private enterprises and start-ups to engage in space activities.

IN-SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center): 

  • IN-SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center): IN-SPACe is an independent nodal agency within the Department of Space (DoS).
    • It was established to allow non-governmental private entities to conduct space activities and use DoS-owned facilities, as well as to prioritise the launch manifest.
      • The Government of India established the IN-SPACe as part of space sector reforms in June 2020.
    • Goal – Increase private participation in India’s space activities.
    • IN-SPACe will serve as an interface between ISRO and private parties, assessing how to best utilise India’s space resources and increase space-based activities.
    • It will assess the needs and demands of private players, including educational and research institutions, and will explore ways to accommodate these requirements in collaboration with ISRO.
  • IN-headquarters SPACe’s are in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
    • IN-SPACe is the government’s second space organisation in the last two years.
      • The Central Government announced the formation of a New Space India Limited in the 2019 Union Budget (NSIL).
      • NSIL is a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) established to serve as ISRO’s marketing arm.

Approval of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Space Sector:

  • FDI in space is currently permitted only through the government route for satellite establishment and operation.
  • FDI in space is approved by the government on a case-by-case basis, which can take time.
  • However, as a result of the Indian government’s shift in approach toward private sector participation, Indian companies will be permitted to invest up to 100% and 70% through FDI with centre approval in all upstream, midstream, and downstream segments.

Present Scenario:

  • IN-SPACe has received 67 proposals in the areas of launch vehicles, satellites, space applications, ground systems, and research from entities ranging in size from small to large.
  • In addition, ten memorandums of understanding (MoUs) have been signed between private players and IN-SPACe, with eight pertaining to payload and two pertaining to vehicle launches.
  • Skyroot Aerospace, a Hyderabad-based space technology startup, is set to make history by launching India’s first privately developed rocket, Vikram-S, into space.
  • The mission, dubbed ‘Prambh,’ will see a Vikram-S rocket carry three customer satellites in a sub-orbital flight, ushering in a new era of private sector launches.

Mission Prarambh

  • The Vikram-S rocket is a single-stage sub-orbital launch vehicle used for Mission Prarambh.
  • A sub-orbital flight is one in which a vehicle travels faster than the orbital velocity – that is, it is fast enough to reach outer space but not fast enough to stay in an orbit around the Earth.

 

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