Bravo, ISRO! Now for the Heavylift­ing

The chal­lenge is to launch heav­ier satel­lites

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

Launch­ing 104 satel­lites into space in one rocket called PSLV-C37 is, no doubt, a tri­umph of In­dia’s space re­search. It is an achieve­ment on a global scale as well, sort of. While the num­ber of satel­lites launched is more than three times the pre­vi­ous record for si­mul­ta­ne­ous launches, set by Rus­sia in 2014, the com­bined weight of the satel­lites was a mere 1.3 tonnes, of which a car­tog­ra­phy satel­lite weighed more than 700 kg. The rest were nano-satel­lites, each weigh­ing a few kilo­grams.

The In­dian Na­tional Com­mit­tee for Space Re­search, founded in 1962 at the ini­tia­tive of Jawa­har­lal Nehru and Vikram Sarab­hai, meta­mor­phosed into Isro in 1969, barely a month af­ter hu­mankind’s first walk on the Moon. Con­quest of the fi­nal fron­tier has been a work in progress, for all na­tions. Two com­mer­cial en­ti­ties, Jeff Be­zos’ Blue Ori­gin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX, are se­ri­ous con­tenders in the satel­lite launch busi­ness. In­dia’s space pro­gramme has been spec­tac­u­larly low-cost. How­ever, its abil­ity to launch heavy pay­loads re­mains lim­ited — any­thing above four tonnes stumps it. Isro’s GSLV series of launch ve­hi­cles have an in­dige­nous cryo­genic en­gine, af­ter a long de­lay. But their boost­ing power re­mains small. While Isro must con­tinue in­dige­nous work on rock­ets, ma­te­ri­als, guid­ance sys­tems, etc, it must proac­tively source avail­able tech­nol­ogy from around the world.

One con­se­quence of In­dia’s nu­clear deal with the US has been its mem­ber­ship of the Mis­sile Tech­nol­ogy Con­trol Regime (MTCR), se­cured last year, and liber­ation from as­sorted tech­nol­ogy-de­nial sanc­tions that had been im­posed af­ter In­dia’s nu­clear tests. As an MTCR mem­ber, In­dia’s ac­cess to rocket and re­lated tech­nol­ogy is much broader than it was, prior to that mem­ber­ship. In­dia must use the new ac­cess it has to iden­tify and pro­cure the tech­nolo­gies it needs, to en­hance its satel­lite-launch ca­pa­bil­ity. In­dia can and must stop reliance on for­eign launch­ers for its com­mu­ni­ca­tion satel­lites. Fur­ther, it must be­come a sig­nif­i­cant player in the mar­ket for heav­ier satel­lites as well.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.