How will we balance our Space Programme?

India has embarked on the third pillar of its space programme - human spaceflight. The Indian Prime Minister announced the names of the four Indian Astronauts. This, more than the hardware tests or astronaut training, tells me that this is happening.

India has a well respected fleet of remote sensing, communications, and meteorological satellites. It is building capability in operating the Positioning, Navigating, and Timing (PNT) satellites. India’s private sector has capability to build small satellites with remote sensing capability. It is building capability in the assembly, integration, and testing of larger satellites.

It has built four launch vehicles for launching these satellites. Its private sector is building launch vehicles for small satellites.

In 1999, India started working on scientific interplanetary exploration. This led to missions like the Chandrayaan series and the Mars Orbiter Mission. It also led to missions like Astrosat, Aditya-L1, and XpoSAT.

Three other countries have similar capabilities. These are the US, Russia, and China. Among these, the US space programme has been the most transparent. It’s struggles to prioritise missions and funding is well known. Russia has gone through periods of immense struggle to raise funding. China is the most recent member of these nations. It seems to be doing a good job of balancing these priorities today.

How will India balance these priorities?

March 7, 2024