As the private or autonomous space industry becomes more developed, an interesting phenomena is occurring. The public sector which runs space programmes has lagged behind, but also profits from the recent success of private space companies are limited to direct stakeholders. After a decade of private investment, it is worth assessing why countries like the U.S., Russia, China and India have pursued independence from government entities in space over the last decade.
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On 30 July 2021, Lisa Curtis and Surjit Bhalla, co-chairs of the Gateway House Quad Economy and Technology Task Force, spoke to CNBC-TV-18 on the various channels of cooperation between the Quad countries in technology, supply chains and undersea cables, and the need to counter China's dominance in the Indo-Pacific.
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.
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.