- Vikram-S, India’s first privately developed launch vehicle, recently took off from the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Sriharikota spaceport on its first flight.
- Prarambh (the beginning) is the Indian private sector’s first foray into the lucrative space launch market.
GS Paper 3: Science and technology (space research)
Discuss India’s accomplishments in space science and technology. How has the use of this technology aided India’s socioeconomic development? (150 Words)
The Indian Space Sector
- 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.
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.
- The government approves FDI in space 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.
Concerning Mission Prarambh and Vikram-S:
- It is a mission in which ISRO launched Vikram-S, India’s first privately manufactured launch vehicle developed by Skyroot Aerospace in Hyderabad.
- The Vikram-S rocket, named after India’s space programme founder Vikram Sarabhai, is a single-stage solid fuel suborbital launch vehicle.
- The vehicle travels slower than the orbital velocity in a sub-orbital flight, which means it is fast enough to reach outer space but not fast enough to maintain an orbit around the Earth.
- The launch vehicle’s engine, Kalam-80, is named after former President A P J Abdul Kalam.
- It will carry three customer payloads, two Indian and one foreign, including a FunSat by SpaceKidz India, parts of which were developed by school students.
- The Vikram-S is a Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) that will carry payloads weighing between 290 and 560 kg into sun-synchronous polar orbits.
- The performance of the Vikram-S and its engine, the Kalam-80, will aid in the testing and validation of technologies in the Vikram series space launch vehicles.
- The company is developing three Vikram rockets that will use various solid and cryogenic fuels and have a carbon composite core structure.
- The vehicle’s spin stability thrusters have been 3D printed.
- The entry of private players into the Indian space sector, with more private sector missions on the way.
- Agnikul Cosmos, for example, whose semi-cryogenic Agnilet engine was recently tested at ISRO’s vertical testing facility at Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS), Thiruvananthapuram.
- ISRO’s SSLV is also expected to be manufactured and operated by private players in the near future.
- Around 100 start-ups have registered with the ISRO and are collaborating with it in various areas of the space industry.