The Indian space sector, recently thrown open to private enterprise, will need its success as a spring-pad
The space sector has been a signal feather in Independent India’s cap, thanks to an early policy thrust, even if it seemed a bit uppity back then to some observers of our poverty. We chose well. Today, India counts as a spacefaring nation thanks to the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro). Its recent record, however, has included a failure to land a rover on the moon in 2019, a geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV) stumble last August, with its 2-tonne-plus payload lost, and now a similar fate for two small orbiters slipped into the wrong orbit—elliptical instead of circular—on Sunday by the debut mission of its small satellite launch vehicle (SSLV). As it was a final-stage error, Isro expects to study and fix it soon. Indeed, it must act swiftly to regain credibility on its claim of cost advantage in launch services for small orbiters, which weigh roughly no more than a small car and are in hot demand globally for commercial use. Telecom and digital plans need snappy and cheap but reliable launches of the sort SSLV promises. Plus, the Indian space sector, recently thrown open to private enterprise, will need its success as a spring-pad. The clock’s ticking.