In a monumental stride for space exploration, on 23 August this year, India etched its name in the annals of history by becoming the first country to successfully land a spacecraft near the south pole of the moon. A little over a week later, on 2 September, it launched its first solar mission to study the outer layers of the sun. India has been consistently achieving milestones in space exploration, all while keeping costs significantly lower than those of established spacefaring nations. For instance, India's successful moon landing, a feat previously accomplished only by Russia, the US, and China, was achieved at a budget of less than $75 million. In 2014, India also made history by becoming the first Asian nation to place a spacecraft into orbit around Mars. The recent successes of India’s space program parallel the nation’s economic, technological and geopolitical rise and also reflect the burgeoning potential of the geospatial sector within the country.
While congratulating ISRO on its remarkable achievements, Abhilasha Purwar, CEO of Blue Sky Analytics, offered her insights on the shifting global dynamics. She stated, “I was fortunate to witness the historical moment (of Chandrayaan’s soft landing) during a B20 conference in Delhi, where top executives from prominent global corporations were present. It's impossible not to notice the centre of global influence moving from Houston to Sriharikota, from San Francisco to Bangalore, from New York City to Mumbai, and, to be honest, from Washington D.C. to Delhi, reflecting a broader shift in economic and technological dynamics, with India playing a pivotal role amidst these transformations.”
Boosting Cutting-edge Geospatial Innovation in India
These successes are not just testaments to ISRO’s capabilities but also act as a catalyst for advancing cutting-edge geospatial innovation within India. It provides valuable data, technology, infrastructure, and expertise that can be harnessed across various sectors to address environmental challenges, drive economic growth, and enhance national capabilities in geospatial applications. These missions make insights more attainable for climate-tech companies like Blue Sky Analytics, which leverage satellite data and artificial intelligence to develop essential climate datasets. As space technology advances, our perspective broadens, and access to high-quality geospatial data becomes pivotal in propelling climate-tech innovation forward.
Furthermore, India's burgeoning space program is also a promising step towards developing climate solutions as it furnishes the essential tools, data, and technology needed for monitoring, understanding, and addressing the climate change crisis. Space-based observations are critical for climate research, modeling, and policy development, making them integral to global efforts to combat climate change and drive effective solutions. The upcoming NISAR mission, set to launch early next year, particularly holds promise in deepening our understanding of climate change. The partnership between NASA and ISRO in monitoring some of our planet's most complex processes could yield invaluable insights that have the potential to shape our approach to this crisis as the world continues to grapple with the far-reaching impacts of climate change. By mapping the entire planet once every 12 days, it will provide the necessary data for understanding climate change, deforestation, glacier melt, changes in ecosystems, vegetation biomass, sea level rise, groundwater, and natural hazards, including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and landslides.
Related: Read our blog to learn more about the science behind NISAR.
India’s growing space capabilities also help boost its geospatial sector as it acts as a catalyst for advancements in the field by offering the tools and data needed to make informed decisions, promote economic development, and ensure the well-being of the citizens. This is especially significant as Indian policymakers believe that 'Geospatial lies at the core of India's vision of becoming a USD 10 Trillion Economy by 2030.' They have thus been striving to harness the potential of geospatial technology to drive India's economic growth.
Related: Read our blog to learn more about India’s path to sustainability leadership through geospatial technology.
Key Step in Boosting Private Sector Growth
The growing prowess of ISRO also helps to create a nurturing ecosystem for innovation and spurring development in the private sector. Apart from inspiring the private space industry to push their boundaries of innovation, ISRO's remarkable achievements offer several other benefits to the private space sector in India as well. From elevating India's standing in the global space community, facilitating collaborative growth opportunities for private space firms, and benefitting from supportive policies, these achievements foster confidence, open doors to infrastructure sharing, and create new market opportunities for private enterprises, ultimately contributing to the nation's growth in the space sector. Additionally, these successes are poised for our private space enterprises.
Through partnerships and commercialization of space-related technologies, private companies can benefit in several ways. They gain access to cutting-edge research, satellite services, and space infrastructure, enabling them to develop a wide range of applications. Additionally, government contracts and incentives for private space ventures can stimulate investment, R&D, and job creation within the aerospace industry. This synergy between the public and private sectors drives technological advancements and contributes to economic growth, making a strong space program a valuable asset in nurturing a thriving and dynamic private sector.
Charting the Course for Greater Success
Reflecting on this remarkable achievement, Abhilasha remarked, “As we celebrate India's successes, we're reminded that audacious goals, innovation, and collaborative efforts can redefine what's possible. Over the past four years of being in this field, I've witnessed a noticeable shift in attitude, energy, dynamism, and, truthfully, a newfound ambition within the Indian space industry. ISRO's recent successes offer numerous inspiring takeaways. I trust this will infuse us with a bit more courage, a touch more aspiration, added resilience to navigate rough landings, increased adaptability to achieve soft landings, and much more strength to soar.”