Today's Editorial

Today's Editorial - 23 October 2023

Bhartiya Space Station and the Challenges Ahead

"All of us do not have equal talent. But, all of us have an equal opportunity to develop our talents."

 Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

Relevance: GS III (Science and Technology: Space Technology)

  • Prelims: Gaganyaan Mission, 2035 Space vision
  • Mains: Gaganyaan Mission; Space station and 2035 vision; Challenges for India’s upcoming Space vision;

Why in the News?

PM Narendra Modi in a high-level meeting during the address of the Gaganyaan mission told the Dept. of Space that they should now aim to build a Bharatiya Antariksha Station (Indian Space Station) by 2035.

ISRO’s upcoming move:

  • ISRO is now aiming for new and ambitious goals including setting up ‘Bharatiya Antariksha Station’ (Indian Space Station) by 2035” and sending “an Indian to the Moon by 2040”.
  • While both – a space station and a future human mission to the Moon – have been on the radar of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) as some kind of dream project, this is the first official announcement with a timeline.

What is the Vision for 2040?

  • Vision 2040 is designed for landing an Indian astronaut on the Moon is a lunar mission. To realize this vision, the Department of Space will develop a roadmap for Moon exploration.
    • This will encompass Chandrayaan missions, development of a Next Generation Launch Vehicle (NGLV), construction of a new launch pad, setting up human-centric laboratories, and associated technologies.
The Prime Minister has also urged Indian scientists to expand their horizons further by working on interplanetary missions. These include the development of a space vehicle for orbiting Venus and another for landing on Mars, indicating a broader commitment to exploring the solar system.

How were the previous Space Stations built?

  • Space station is the place which is present in orbiting modules for astronauts to live and work for long durations in space.
  • In 1984, NASA scientists started with the building blocks of the station which were transported to space in several missions and it became a reality in 2000, not as a NASA project but as a collaborative venture of America, Russia, Japan, Canada, and the European Space Agency. That’s how the International Space Station (ISS) was born.
  • China was kept out of ISS because of domestic American laws that prohibited NASA from direct collaboration with the Chinese. To build its own space station, China first had to master human space flights. In 2003, the first Chinese astronaut went to space. Over the next 20 years, China developed the building blocks needed for a crewed space station.

What are the challenges associated with the upcoming Space Vision - 2035?

While India continues to grow leaps and bounds beyond the boundaries of the planet, the challenges are immense to make the 2035 target a reality.

  • India needs New Technology: Building a space station is a colossal undertaking that demands cutting-edge technology and expertise. India has shown its prowess in satellite development, but constructing and maintaining a space station requires a completely different set of skills. It involves life support systems, radiation protection, and long-term structural integrity.
    • India will need to significantly upgrade its technological capabilities to meet these demands. With private companies stepping up, the research and technological development is set to go up and ISRO is assisting aerospace startups in the process.
  • Budget allocation by government: The financial aspect is perhaps the most significant hurdle. A space station is a costly endeavor, and India must secure a substantial budget. Financial constraints could potentially limit the pace of the project and the range of experiments it can accommodate.
    • India will have to seek international collaborations and explore private-sector involvement to ensure adequate funding. There has been a constant urge from the science community to enhance the budgetary allocations to the department to push for bigger missions.
    • While ISRO has remained profitable, it will have to step up to further capture the satellite launch market to boost its coffers, which could then be diverted to further R&D.
  • Expertise in Human spaceflight: While India has achieved significant success with robotic missions, it lacks experience in human spaceflight. To build and operate a space station, a well-trained team of astronauts is indispensable.
    • India must invest in human spaceflight programs, astronaut training, and the development of necessary infrastructure for crewed missions. It will all hinge on the success and learning of the ambitious Gaganyaan Mission.
  • Maintaining long-term sustainability: Maintaining a space station is not a one-time endeavor; it's a long-term commitment. Ensuring the sustainability of the station for decades will be a formidable challenge. India must develop a clear plan for regular maintenance, resupply missions, and upgrades to ensure its space station remains operational.
    • It will also have to devise plans to tackle space debris and its potential impact on the environment, which is a growing concern. India needs to address these issues by adopting best practices for space debris mitigation and disposal.

Way forward:

  • Context of International cooperation: India's space station project should also be seen in the context of international cooperation. Collaboration with established space-faring nations can provide valuable insights and reduce costs. Establishing partnerships, especially with nations possessing space station experience, can be mutually beneficial in terms of knowledge sharing and resource sharing.
  • India can look towards the US, Canada, and even China: India could look towards the US, Canada, and even China to gain knowledge from their operations of the Space Station. While NASA, the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, European Space Agency have been operating the ISS for over two decades, China has recently joined the list with its Tiangong space station and India will have to look at these models.
  • Geopolitics and Maneuvering: The development of a space station has geopolitical implications. India's space station project could lead to concerns from other nations, which might view it as a strategic move. India will need to navigate diplomatic waters carefully to ensure that its space station ambitions do not lead to conflict or regional tensions.
  • Need to build public awareness for contributions: A project of this magnitude requires public support. The government will have to engage in outreach and education to build public awareness and enthusiasm for its space station program.
    • Explaining the benefits of space exploration and highlighting the contributions it can make to various scientific fields will be essential.



  1. What is India’s plan to have its own space station and how will it benefit our space program? (2019)
  2. India has achieved remarkable successes in unmanned space missions including the Chandrayaan and Mars Orbiter Mission, but has not ventured into manned space missions. What are the main obstacles to launching a manned space mission, both in terms of technology and logistics? Examine critically. (2017)


Q1) With reference to the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), consider the following statements: (2018)

(1) IRNSS has three satellites in geostationary and four satellites in geosynchronous orbits.

(2) IRNSS covers the entire India and about 5500 sq. km beyond its borders.

(3) India will have its own satellite navigation system with full global coverage by the middle of 2019.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) None

Q2) With reference to India’s satellite launch vehicles, consider the following statements:

(1) PSLVs launch satellites useful for Earth resources monitoring whereas GSLVs are designed mainly to launch communication satellites.

(2) Satellites launched by PSLV appear to remain permanently fixed in the same position in the sky, as viewed from a particular location on Earth.

(3) GSLV Mk III is a four-stage launch vehicle with the first and third stages using solid rocket motors, and the second and fourth stages using liquid rocket engines.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3

(c) 1 and 2

(d) 3 only



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