With the U.S.-led Artemis Accords gathering momentum, and China and Russia joining hands, space exploration is becoming economically important. Countries increasingly want to participate in the space exploration economy and are partnering with space superpowers that have aligned geopolitical and geoeconomic interests. India, too, must do the same, says Dr. Chaitanya Giri, Fellow, Space and Ocean Studies Programme.
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India’s space reforms have the potential to boost India-Taiwan space relations beyond the pure scientific domain. The two countries have the potential for collaboration between space start-ups, joint ventures, investments, and technology and infrastructure-sharing. This article highlights the scope for India to establish Track 1.5 and Track 2 space diplomacy with Taiwan.
The Indian administration enacted much-needed space reforms in 2020, paving the way for a private space industry in the country. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has suspended space launch activities in the country. The Department of Space must remove these redundancies to make India’s space launch centers and spaceports market-oriented and ready for commercial, military, civilian, and experimental space launches.
On 25-26 May 2021, United Nations India held a Virtual Conference on Ethics of Artificial Intelligence (AI): Exploring pluri-perspectives in conjunction with OP Jindal University. Chaitanya Giri, Fellow, Space and Ocean Studies Programme, spoke on 'Operationalising AI ethics from a Pluri-Philosophical Lens', where he made the case for Sanskrit as an applicable language for instilling ethics in AI. He also emphasized the need for greater scientific inquiry in natural intelligence to avoid skewed technological progress with AI.
With the space sector being divided into astro-political blocs, India can't afford to stay non-aligned. A recent treaty between China and Russia makes it plain for India that leaving space exploration to a few science aficionados can be dangerous. India needs a national space exploration strategy with tangible economic and meta-strategic goals in sight.
As the density of satellites increases in Earth's orbit, extreme space weather events like solar storms and radiation whiplashes threaten satellite constellations. A ‘whole-of-government’ approach is needed to address the challenges of space weather on India’s converging space and digital economies.
With an increasing human and robotic footprint in the solar system, there is a need to develop robust regulatory mechanisms to prevent the “forward” and “backward” biochemical contamination of these unexplored celestial bodies.
As more countries pursue missions to Mars, planetary explorations are evolving from being science-driven scientific pursuits to an economics-driven one. For India, commercializing planetary exploration must be a national priority. This demands more attention and contributions from the private sector - especially startups and innovative companies - to ensure a vibrant space program.
The maturing private space sector in the U.S. has learned to raise money from the market in the form of sectoral equity-traded funds. Such financing mechanisms will keep the U.S. ahead in the global space economy, which is slated to grow manifold from $430 billion now to $4 trillion by 2040. India's fledgling private space ecosystem, financiers, and stock exchanges can learn from the U.S. and do the same for India's newly reformed private space sector.
India needs a policy mix that nurtures the Space 2.0 industry, secures it from hostile takeovers and predatory investments from overseas investors, and does not suffocate it under excessive protectionism.