Space Programs – Space technology
There has been a lot of criticism about India spending millions of rupees on space programs. In this context, examine how Space Technology aims to promote Socio-economic progress/development in India?
Introduction: (up to 30 words) Give a brief introduction to India’s space program
Body: (up to 100 words) Explain various space programs launched for development of India, their application and role in socio economic development.
Conclusion: (up to 30 words) Conclude by pointing out that development of Space Program is necessary for development of India and spending today is investment for the future.
Today, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)’s success has made India to be inducted into an elite group of countries, where India is rightfully acknowledged as a space power in the world. Space technology is dual-use technology, in this feat, apart from space research, ISRO has delivered many projects serving military as well as socio-economic needs of India.
ISRO has demonstrated that the pace of socio-economic development can significantly increase by converging earth observation, communication & navigation satellites and ground observations in following ways:
- The first area of focus is satellite communication, which sought to address the national needs for telecommunication, broadcasting and broadband infrastructure. INSAT and GSAT are the core of satellite communication.
ISRO had undertaken several projects that focused on development of humanity through sophisticated satellite-based communication. Right from the inception of utilizing space programmes for development, the experiments like Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE), Kheda Communications Project (KCP), Jhabua Development Communications Project (JDCP), Training and Development Communication Channel (TDCC) have been carried out.
- The second area of focus is Earth observation and using space-based imagery for a slew of national demands, ranging from weather forecasting, disaster management and national resource mapping and national security.
- Beginning with the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) series in the 1980s, today the RISAT, Cartosat and Resourcesat series provide wide-field and multispectral high-resolution data for land, ocean and atmospheric observations.
- With higher resolution and precise positioning, Geographical Information Systems’ applications today cover all aspects of rural and urban development and planning.
- The third and more recent focus area is satellite-aided navigation.
- The GPS-aided GEO augmented navigation (GAGAN), a joint project between ISRO and Airports Authority of India, augmented the GPS coverage of the region, improving the accuracy and integrity, primarily for civil aviation applications and better air traffic management over Indian airspace.
- This was followed up with the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), a system based on seven satellites in geostationary and geosynchronous orbits. In 2016, the system was renamed NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation).
- The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has signed a MoU with the ISRO. It is also planning to utilise ‘GAGAN’ and ‘BHUVAN’ satellite systems to prepare a 360-degree mapping of all national highways under its road assets management system (RAMS).
- Deep space probes
- The most notable of these have been the Chandrayaan and the Mangalyaan missions, with a manned space mission, Gaganyaan, planned for its first test flight in 2021.
- These missions are not just for technology demonstration but also for expanding the frontiers of knowledge in space sciences. It will promote start-ups, manufacturing and demand of skilled labour force.
- Disaster Management Support (DMS) by ISR
ISRO’s technologies and applications have always proved useful during natural calamities. ISRO’s support on this front was significant during the Uttarakhand Forest Fires and floods in the north-eastern states of Manipur and Assam.
- Space technology for governance and development.
- It is working with various ministries and government departments to extend the use of space technology in such areas as education and health, connectivity, e-governance and disaster and early warning.
- The space-based tools are being used by Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), National Mission for Clean Ganga, Digital India and Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).
- Village Resource Centre
- To provide the space based services directly to the rural areas, ISRO/ DOS has launched the Village Resource Centres (VRCs) programme in association with NGOs/ Trusts and state/ central agencies.
- The focus areas are like, Agriculture/horticulture development; Fisheries development; Livestock development; Water resources
- The South Asian satellite will be providing services such as telemedicine, tele-education, disaster management support, television and Direct-to- Home (DTH) to countries in South Asia, as a part of the Prime Minister’s ‘Neighbourhood first policy’.
The potential areas and challenges for ISRO are as follows:
- Despite ISRO’s impressive capabilities, India’s share is estimated at $7 billion (just 2% of the global market) covering broadband and Direct-to-Home television (accounting for two-thirds of the share), satellite imagery and navigation.
- Already, over a third of transponders used for Indian services are leased from foreign satellites and this proportion will rise as the demand grows.
- Developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data analytics has led to the emergence of ‘New Space’. However, Space startups have yet to take off in the absence of regulatory clarity.
- Also, the New Space start-ups discern a synergy with government’s flagship programmes like Digital India, Startup India, Skill India and schemes like Smart Cities Mission.
- ISRO launched the idea of Village Resource Centres to work in collaboration with local panchayats and NGOs but only 460 pilots have begun.
- Expanding this for rural areas is a formidable challenge but has the potential to transform rural India if properly conceived as a part of the India Stack and the Jan Dhan Yojana.
- Space Based Information System for Decentralized Planning (SIS-DP)
Space technology, as the powerful enabler, provides a variety of vital inputs for holistic and rapid development of rural areas, and villages in specific. ISRO has made tremendous progress in using space-based applications for socio-economic development as a part of its mission.