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Budget 2021: Is there space for space in times of COVID-19?

The government created Indian National Space, Promotion & Authorisation Centre (INSPACe), under the Department of Space to encourage, promote, and handhold the private sector for their participation in Space Sector

Mansi Jaswal | February 1, 2021 | Updated 07:38 IST
BUDGET 2021: Is there space for space in times of COVID-19?
There are more than 500 companies that partner with ISRO in carrying out space activities

The Modi 2.0 government has really high ambitions for space and technology. The PM himself has reiterated in various universities' conferences and in his monthly radio talk show Mann Ki Baat about his aim to take the country's space technology to new heights.

In fact, even during the coronavirus outbreak, the union government approved far-reaching reforms in the Space sector aimed at boosting private sector participation in entire range of space activities.

The government allowed the private sector to use the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) facilities and other relevant assets to improve their capacities.

The government created Indian National Space, Promotion & Authorisation Centre (INSPACe), under the Department of Space to encourage, promote, and handhold the private sector for their participation in Space Sector.

There are more than 500 companies that partner with ISRO in carrying out space activities. The broad areas and sectors covered by private companies are - providing materials, mechanical fabrication, electronic fabrication, system development, integration, etc.

In fact, in the last year's budget, the Centre allocated Rs 13,479 crore for India's premier space organisation, ISRO to enhance the domestic space technology and to help the country leapfrog to the next stages of space activities.

At this point, there are three mega space projects that ISRO is eyeing to accomplish by the end of 2025--- the Gaganyaan mission, the Mangalyaan-2, and the Shukrayaan mission.

Among the three, Gaganyaan is said to be the boldest space mission so far as it will be India's first human flight space programme. However, the Gaganyaan project received roughly 30 per cent of the funds that ISRO sought in the Budget 2020. The Department of Space had projected an amount of Rs 4,256.78 crore for the Gaganyaan mission in the Budgetary Estimate (BE) against which an amount of Rs 1,200 crore has been allocated. The total cost of Gaganyaan, including sending a crew of astronauts to space and bringing them back before the 75th Independence Day 2022, is Rs 10,000 crore, as cleared by ?the Centre in December 2018.

For the Shukrayaan mission, India has planned to launch an orbiter to planet Venus in 2024. Although there's no clarity regarding the funding of the country's first mission to the Earth's twin planet.

ISRO has planned Mangalyaan 2 also known as Mars Orbiter Mission 2 between 2022 and 2023. In this mission, the space agency will be using the aerobraking method to approach Mars and go close to the surface.

Apart from these space missions, the national space agency has also planned to study Sun's corona and its atmosphere under the Aditya-L1 mission.

It is obvious that ISRO will require some big boost in the upcoming budget to accelerate its work in the aforementioned missions but will it possible for the government when the economy is reeling from a pandemic?

Also Read: Budget 2021: Govt plans Rs 3 lakh crore package to revive power discoms

Also Read: Budget 2021: How is 'Skill India' doing?

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