Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is the space agency of India. The organisation is involved in science, engineering and technology to harvest the benefits of outer space for India and the mankind. ISRO is a major constituent of the Department of Space (DOS), Government of India. The department executes the Indian Space Programme primarily through various Centres or units within ISRO.
ISRO was previously the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR), set up by the Government of India in 1962, as envisioned by Dr Vikram A Sarabhai. ISRO was formed on August 15, 1969 and superseded INCOSPAR with an expanded role to harness space technology. DOS was set up and ISRO was brought under DOS in 1972. The prime objective of ISRO/DOS is the development and application of space technology for various national needs. To fulfill this objective, ISRO has established major space systems for communication, television broadcasting and meteorological services; resources monitoring and management; space-based navigation services. ISRO has developed satellite launch vehicles, PSLV and GSLV, to place the satellites in the required orbits.
Alongside its technological advancement, ISRO contributes to science and science education in the country. Various dedicated research centres and autonomous institutions for remote sensing, astronomy and astrophysics, atmospheric sciences and space sciences in general function under the aegis of Department of Space. ISRO’s own Lunar and interplanetary missions along with other scientific projects encourage and promote science education, apart from providing valuable data to the scientific community which in turn enriches science.
ISRO has its headquarters in Bengaluru. Its activities are spread across various centres and units. Launch Vehicles are built at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram; Satellites are designed and developed at U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), Bengalure; Integration and launching of satellites and launch vehicles are carried out from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota; Development of liquid stages including cryogenic stage is carried out at Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Valiamala & Bengaluru; Sensors for Communication and Remote Sensing satellites and application aspects of the space technology are taken up at Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad and Remote Sensing satellite data reception processing and dissemination is entrusted to National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Hyderabad.
ISRO has its origins in space sciences. ISRO’s space science programme started with studies of upper atmosphere using sounding rockets. The saga is continuing with scientific missions like AstroSat, Mars Missions, Chandrayaan missions followed by Solar and other planetary missions. Indian space programme encompasses research in multiple areas like astronomy, astrophysics, planetary and earth sciences, atmospheric sciences and theoretical physics supported by scientific balloons, sounding rockets, space platforms and ground-based facilities. Under India’s 20 Presidency, Indian Space Research organisation/ Department of Space (ISRO/DOS) is organising the 4th edition of the SELM to continue the deliberations on the significance of space in shaping the global economy. The 4th SELM is planned with two events. A SELM-Precursor event was organized on April 17-18, 2023 at Shillong, Meghalaya in the north eastern region of India. The objective was to create awareness among the wider audience on the significance of space economy.
A session on policy perspectives of space economy is also planned wherein there will be curated talks on specific aspects of space economy by Think-Tanks and experts. There will be a session to brief about the plans for the SELM event to be organised at Bengaluru, Karnataka during July 6-7, 2023. The Bengaluru SELM event will see the Heads of national space agencies (HOA) of G20 countries will once again assemble and continue their discussion. In addition to the HoA there will be space industry leader’s session and other networking and bilateral meeting opportunities. Considering importance of New Space in shaping the global economy, the theme for this year is SELM will be “Towards a New Space ERA (Economy, Responsibility, Alliance)” the growth that the space economy has achieved and its future has close linkages with the emergence of the New Space. As we all commonly share One Earth, One Space, and One Future as one ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (One Family), we need vital alliance of responsible space actors to enhance the contribution of Space economy in global economy.
The Government of India has announced the space sector reform with opening up the space sector for private entrepreneurship. The underlying intention is to significantly increase India’s share in global space economy. A nodal entity named Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) has been established for promoting and authorizing private space activities. The industry has also welcomed this initiative and number of start-ups and industries has come up in both upstream and downstream space sectors. This trend can propel India’s share in global space economy, accompanied with the sustained policy and regulatory measures.
As the space sector was opened up to private enterprises and startups to undertake space activities, an independent nodal agency - the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) was formed to promote, handhold, regulate and authorise the activities of Non-Governmental Entities (NGE).
IN-SPACe will permit and oversee the activities of private enterprises and startups, including the building of launch vehicles, satellites and space-based services. IN-SPACe will govern the usage of spacecraft data, rolling out of space based services and all the associated infrastructure for the same. The IN-SPACe Digital Platform saw a humongous increase in the number of registrations made by NGE’s in space sector in India and the number currently stands at above 250. The traditional companies in the space sector are rapidly moving up the value chain by seeking to undertake end to end space projects.
National Information system for Climate and Environment Studies (NICES) envisages realization of national level climate database generation for climate studies (impact assessment). NICES is a muli-institutional effort with the participation of ISRO / DOS centres, other ministries/departments and other R&D institutions. The geophysical products, pertaining to land, ocean, atmosphere and cryosphere are disseminated through a NICES portal developed under Bhuvan platform. Currently 28 of 51 ECVs are amenable from space, either directly or indirectly. For 13 geophysical parameters, the space-based inputs are being made available through NICES portal (Albedo, Cloud properties, Forest fire regime, Land cover, Ocean colour, Ozone, Soil moisture, Sea level pressure, Ocean Surface currents, Snow cover, River discharge (Runoff), Total Alkalinity and pCO2.
(The author is a regular contributor)
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