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Chandrayaan-2, Gaganyaan, Space Station.... ISRO set to emerge as a major space power


Bengaluru, Sep 06: Perfect execution of Chandrayaan-2 will prove that ISRO can develop complex technologies and the success of next major technologically challenging mission Gaganyaan, would surely establish India as a major space power.

ISRO has already proven its mettle in launching small-medium weight satellites into the orbit with its trusted workhorse PSLV. ISRO has now developed a medium lift launch vehicle GSLV Mk-3 which placed Chandrayaan-2 in orbit.

A file photo

In June, ISRO chief announced last month that India would be launching a Space Station into the orbit by 2030. It would be a massive leap for India in terms of space exploration and ISRO's main focus after Chandrayaan-2 and Gaganyaan would likely to be on this critical project.

[Chandrayaan-2: Why every Indian's chest ought to swell in pride]

Successfully executing Chandrayaan-2 and Gaganyaan would to open new avenues for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). For one, there would be a paradigm shift in the way the world looks at ISRO's capabilities in terms of space exploration and the ability to put heavy satellites in orbits.

There are a number of new technologies that ISRO has to develop to successfully carry out Gaganyan and several of these technologies are being tested. India has been launching satellites for other countries, but what Gaganyan can do is to encourage ISRO to dive into lucrative business of 'Space Tourism'.

Space Tourism: Can ISRO make it affordable?

Space tourism, in essence, is putting paying customers into space for the purpose of recreation, rather than exploration. Given that only seven people have actually gone into space as tourists so far, the idea of ISRO entering into this aspect of outer space activities may seem far fetched, but here is what ISRO chief said in October 2018.

[Chandrayaan 2 launched: ISRO now sets eye on mission to study the Sun]

SRO chairman K Sivan on October 11 said that India needs to explore space tourism. "We are creating capacity for it so that we do not lag behind," Sivan said on space tourism.

If India does enter space tourism, the impact would be huge as an investment in space tourism can generate revenues and employment on a sizeable scale. Space tourism would require personnel for building the spacecraft, to training travellers, to investment and insurance. But, at present, there are no laws governing space tourism in India. One must understand that laws that are applicable to trained astronauts cannot easily be extended to space tourists.

[What exactly is a space station? Explained]

All the ISRO missions so far involved sending satellites/orbiters out of the earth's atmosphere. But, when humans are being sent to space, then they have to be brought back, and that is a big technological challenge. In 2011, the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun, conducted a pilot study exploring the scope of a space tourism industry in India, which suggests that India could reduce the overall cost of commercial space travel. It states that at present, anyone looking to buy a seat to outer space will have to dish out roughly $200,000 but if India can bring that figure down by a fourth, it will be a competitive player in the market, said a HuffingtonPost report. With the rise of companies like space-X and the huge success that ISRO has achieved so far, space tourism may become a real thing in the coming future, but it is hard to predict how much time it may actually take. An industry can only develop when there is demand for that kind of goods or services.

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