Rama Krishna Sangem
Chandrayaan 3 has unveiled a new space era. Till now, space or outer space, remained a stage for gladiator show. Where two major superpowers – the US and erstwhile Soviet Union displayed their power and superiority. If America’s NASA propelled its space missions with deep pockets and far greater scientific talent, Soviets used this to showcase their grit and militaristic strength. Chandrayaan 3’s soft landing on Moon on August 23 created a new history!
Of course, NASA is much bigger and greater with deep financial resources and scientific pool of talent. But, the race that began between the US and USSR in late 1950’s and 60’s was chiefly loaded with ideological moorings. If USSR wanted to tell the world what a socialistic world can achieve, not only on earth but in space, the US answered with its far superior science and technology – to tell us that capitalism is more capable.
After 1980’s, China too joined the race while USSR breakdown facilitated its further advancements – in evey sphere, including space. China with its limited financial resources – like India – combined the qualities of both the US and USSR. China spent millions of dollars like America and deployed its militaristic resources like USSR on its space programmes – striking a high rate of success.
India for peaceful purposes
After Soviet disappeared from the scene, the US too lost is appetite for space missions, and left the sector to private firms like Space X, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin etc. European Union, Japan and Australia too have begun their space activities , but not on the level of the US and China. Moreover, NASA continued its missions mostly with scientific purposes bordering on scientific fiction’s ambitions.. Artemis Accords of NASA is an example to this.
India which started its space activities only from 1970s, and sent its first satellite Aryabhatta in 1975 maybe a late entrant, but not of least important. The world knows how constrained we are in resources – many of us will never forget the photo of a rocket being carried on a bicycle by two scientists- and how limited are our infrastructure facilities on this front. Still, India continued its efforts and emerged as a major power in space.
Is it an amazing frugality (cost effective)? or bundle of local talent? ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) today is in a pole position in the global space industry. People are talking of ISRO’s Chandrayaan 3 in terms of its tight budget – of around 70 million US dollars or Rs 619 crore. They also compare it with Hollywood sci-fi film Interstellar at 400 million US dollars.
We cannot compare our’s with either Soviet or Chinese missions as their exact figures are cloaked in secrecy. We are very strong in science, and slowly catching up with technology too. Resources will follow automatically. India’s peaceful purposes for space exploration will keep us on par, if not ahead of, other major space powers. The two weeks time when Pragyan rover moves on the surface of Moon, every Indian, or every person on the earth will celebrate the moments.
In August 2023, a new phrase is coined – Indian Space Culture!