India-EU space collaboration is still nascent largely due to the EU’s limited autonomy over its space programme. Astro-geopolitics, an inevitable successor to geopolitics, requires confidence-building and furthering strengthening of bilateral linkages
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The Indian Space Programme has a mandate to focus on its launch- and earth-oriented capabilities. In the past decade, it has attempted some non-conventional experimental projects under the labels “‘low-cost” and “technology demonstrator”. However the effect of these experimental space projects on India’s techno-economic growth will be realised only if the central government gives the project greater status and funding.
A tectonic shift is occurring in the science landscape, wherein newly-developed nations are audaciously investing in frontier scientific research at par with developed nations. India is game to join this new wave of advancement, but its research-funding mechanisms are deficient. Can Indian philanthropy endow indigenous R&D?
Instead of inviting foreign corporations to India to create a manufacturing base, Modi can use his Silicon Valley experience to build a similar research and development foundation in India for indigenous high-tech companies. A strategic space megaproject could be the start of this much-needed push.
Economic development and increments in scientific knowledge and technology, which in turn rest on R&D, are interconnected. India is falling behind and must allocate a greater share to R&D, while China must elevate the efficiency of its research expenditure—this focus will allow the two countries to continue to grow
Space exploration may take a hit as terrestrial politics plays spoilsport with the U.S. government spearheading a sanctions programme against Russia. With China pursuing an independent space programme of its own, Russia’s departure from the effort may mark the beginning of a divided space once again after the Cold War
The UN’s Transparency and Confidence Building Measures for Outer Space Activities to address terrestrial anti-satellite weapons have spawned schismatic instruments such as the EU’s International Code of Conduct and a Sino-Russian treaty. India must weigh its national interests before agreeing to these drafts
At a time when China has invested substantially in its space projects and Russia is invigorating its space exploration, India too must develop a strategically-designed programme. The successful launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission should give New Delhi enough reason to increase India’s space footprint
Indian companies are pursuing defence offsets and commercial aviation products, but bypassing the global space economy. To build on this market requires New Delhi to overhaul its space policy, ISRO to amend its policy on contracts, and Indian industry to share the risk and investment
An increase in the global demand for rare earth elements, used in high-technology industries, coupled with limited supplies on Earth, has accelerated extra-terrestrial exploration. International cooperation and competition for these space-based resources will determine the next human footprint and race in space.