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China Trails Behind Big Space Agencies No More: What Is In It For India?

First Posted: Nov 30, 2016 04:59 AM EST
ISRO
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been suffering from budget constraints. Now, India does not only participate in space exploration but also provides a launchpad for various space agencies.
(Photo : Lionel Bonaventure/Getty Images)

Over the past years, China has launched space projects in its aim to not only trail behind big space agencies like NASA and ESA but to also become a leading space explorer.

With various projects on hand, like the recently concluded longest manned space mission, the world's second-largest economy eyes more huge space missions like creating a permanent space station by 2022. With China's success, what is in it for India?

India's Budget Constraints

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has sent satellites to the Moon and Mars but they never soft-landed. It is because India's space sciences budget is just $43 million compared to NASA's $5.24 billion, Japan's $953 million and China's $110 million.

Despite the budget constraint, ISRO is credited for its various achievements in space exploration. In fact, ISRO became the fourth space agency across the globe as well as the first space agency from Asia to successfully send a spacecraft into the Mars' orbit.

Satellite-Launching Industry

Amid Asia's space race, India targets its first manned space mission for 2021, Live Mint reports. The Southeast Asian country, however, sees a big slice of the $5.4 billion satellite-launching industry.

This is because the cheapest flight to Mars may leave from a small island in China. Sriharikota, the nation's Cape Canaveral, is the launch pad for various space programs. In fact, it has launched 120 satellites into orbit, including from other countries like the U.S., Germany and Israel.

India has added an Alphabet, Inc. subsidiary as a customer in 2016. This increased the country's profile as a cost-effective global launch market.

"Launch capacity globally is limited," A.S. Kiran Kumar, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, told Bloomberg.

"Why are people coming to us? Because they are looking for the most cost-effective, short turnaround-time launches," he added.

There are various commercial launch centers in Europe and Japan. Moreover, there are private companies like the Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin LLC and Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. However, India offers more affordable prices, making it a tight competitor in the industry.

In fact, this year, the country has launched 37 satellites, twice as much as last year's launches.

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