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11 September 2012, The Diplomat

India’s Space Agency Conducts 100th Mission

The Diplomat republished Gateway House's Dinshaw Mistry's feature on India's 100th space mission. He argues that if its space assets are used effectively, India could have a formidable fleet of five to 10 satellites dedicated for military use, and dozens more for its economic development.

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On September 9th India’s space agency conducted its 100th mission when an Indian rocket launched a French satellite.

What will India’s next 100 space missions involve?  Should India focus on building fleets of satellites, sending probes to the moon and Mars, human space flight, or perhaps a combination of all of them? An optimal space strategy will focus on a mix of economic, scientific, and strategic missions.

Since 1975, India’s space agency has built 62 satellites and 38 rockets. It initially constructed light rockets that could only put small 50kg to 100 kg scientific satellites to low-earth-orbit (LEO); none of these had significant military or economic capabilities. In the mid-1990s, however, it began launching the more powerful Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and sequentially developed the even more powerful Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)—which uses the PSLV’s first two stages and has a cryogenic engine, initially built by Russia and now built by India, in its third stage.


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