Jitendra Singh, India's Minister of Science and Technology, emphasised a dramatic change in the country's capacity for space exploration over the previous four to five years. "The lack of favourable governmental support has hampered the intellect, ability, and zeal of the scientists. There has been a significant change under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership, Singh said at the Agenda Aaj Tak 2023 function. He continued by discussing the rising amount of money coming in from private sources and the higher revenue coming in from launching satellites for nations like Russia and the United States.
Singh highlighted the sector's exponential expansion, noting that it has grown from one space startup in 2019 to over 190 at present, drawing in private investments totaling more over Rs 1,000 crores. Singh emphasised India's advancements in private space launches by drawing parallels with NASA and pointing out that half of NASA's resources came from private enterprises.
“In 2019, there was only one space startup, and now it has grown to 190. More than Rs 1,000 crores have been invested in the space industry. We used to confine ourselves with self-imposed restrictions, comparing ourselves to NASA. But we forget that half of NASA's resources come from private companies. Today, American and Russian satellites are being launched from our end,” he said.
The minister addressed topics such as digital health, ownership programmes, rocket launches, and infrastructure development, emphasising the pervasiveness of space technology in daily life.
Singh claims that through its commercial divisions, ISRO has launched almost 430 foreign satellites for numerous nations. Australia, Brazil, France, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States are among these countries.
"The revenue generated from these satellite launches amounts to roughly 290 million euros (Rs 2,635 crore) from European satellites and over $170 million (Rs 1,417 crore) from American satellites," Singh said.
In an effort to shed light on upcoming missions, Singh revealed that the now-postponed Gaganyaan mission is scheduled to launch a humanoid robot into space in early 2025, and by mid-2025, India will send its first astronaut into space.
Singh also talked about the ambitious 'Deep Sea Mission' scheduled for 2047 and the complete lunar exploration mission 'Chandrayaan', looking ahead and highlighting India's vast oceanic resources that are yet largely unexplored.
Speaking about the potential of the Indian maritime sector, Singh outlined initiatives like the Himalaya and Samudrayaan expeditions, which aim to mine the Indian Ocean for minerals. By doing so, they want to generate an enormous $100 billion in economic growth by 2040.