NEW DELHI: Isro chairman S Somanath on Wednesday said that India must aim to lower the cost of access to space as it could boost small satellite launches and attract new participants in the space sector.
At the third Annual India Space Congress (ISC) 2024 here, which saw the participation of delegates from over 300 global space organisations and 30 countries, the Isro chief said, “Bringing down the cost of access to space is a global trend, and India must also look at it.Space can never be solely for business and economy; it must inspire generations to innovate for humanity.” he said. “Isro has created significant space capability and talent in the country. It’s time for new actors to scale India’s space operations,” he added.
The Isro chief also said that there is not enough internal demand for the satellite-launch market in India but it can be created through more work on the application of satellite technology. He said big companies are willing to enter the space sector but they are concerned about the timeline. “When I talk to many of those industries who are willing to come and set up facilities, they are all very ready to do it. But they are asking when they are going to break even and where the orders are so that they can safely invest in this. I think this is a big question. It is the bigger challenge of convincing investors to come in a big way in big state projects,” the Isro chief said.
Somanath mentioned that PM Narendra Modi’s vision for Amrit Kaal includes extending human space activity beyond the Gaganyaan mission, with the goal of landing on the Moon by 2040. However, he said India’s current rockets are not sufficient for round trips to the Moon. Developing rockets with higher payload capacity is essential for both bringing back samples and future human missions, the Isro chairman said. “Though GSLV MKIII (LVM3) is the biggest rocket that we have, it is not big enough. We need to develop the capability to bring samples back and then send humans to the Moon and bring them back,” he said.
The Isro chief also mentioned Gsat-20, a high-throughput Ka-band satellite, with over 50gbps high bandwidth connectivity capacity, is set to be launched in mid-Aug onboard Space X’s Falcon 9 and it has received clearance to be moved to the US for launch.