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Beyond The Final Frontier Iii The Indian Dream


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An Overview of the Indian Space Program as of Feb 2009

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Beyond The Final Frontier Iii The Indian Dream

  1. 1. Beyond The Final Frontier III - The Indian Dream Feb 2009 – – Nadir Belarbi Since several years, as wealth travels West to East in search of investments, so does the space race, now concentrated in Asia, between China and India. An amazing change when only a few years ago, Japan was the Asian leader in space programs.The Indian space program is the symbol of the country excellence and the fastest way toestablish its new super power status and emancipating from the ghosts of the Britishcolonizer. As China, India is also dreaming of moonwalks and space conquest, latest trend forall those countries who wants to end up with the world order established after the end of theSecond World War.The country is not a new comer in the club of space launchers. The country launched its firstsatellite into orbit the 18th of July 1980, ten years after the Chinese and the fourth country inthe world. With an equivalent budget of $1.3B in 2008 but only 16,000 employees, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is smaller than the Chinese CNSA yet very ambitious. The ISRO has launched 25 missions and the number is planned to grow up to 70 in the next five years. The Indian Military didnt like the Chinese shoot down of a weather satellite in January 2007 and they renewed their claims for an Indian Military Space program, probably another factor that catalyzes the space program funding and the Asian space race. India has reached an important milestone in the mastering of the space and satellite technology by impressing the space international community the last 28th of April 2008 when 10 satellites were launched aboard a unique launcher. The thirteenth flight of the ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C9, successfullyPSLV-C11 Launcher Lift Off, 295 launched the 690 kg Indian remote sensing satellite Tonnes, Payload to LEO, 3.25 CARTOSAT-2A, the 83 kg Indian Mini Satellite (IMS-1) Tonnes and eight nano-satellites for international customers into a 637 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO).Six months later, the nation successfully launched the 28th of October 2008, theChandrayaan-I probe around the moon from the Thumba Equatorial Rocket LaunchingStation (TERLS). During the next two years, the orbiter will to survey the lunar surface toproduce a complete map of its chemical characteristics and 3-dimensional topography.Another probe is scheduled in 2012 forsoil and mineral exploration on the lunar surface withthe help of a robotic device.
  2. 2. Between surveillance and commercial uses, Satellite Mapping is an increasing trend in theworld space community and India is on board the moving train.ISRO is thus expected to launch by March 2009, its own Google Map service called Bhuvanoffering satellite pictures with a resolution of 10 m (32.8 ft). Current Google maps resolutionis around 200 m (656 ft).In the mean time though, a recent observationsatellite GeoEye-1 launched by Boeing withthe collaboration of several stakeholdersincluding Google is expected to increase theGoogle Maps resolution up to 50 cm (19.5in). The satellite is able to take pictures witha resolution of 41 cm (16 in) but all pictureswith a resolution below 50 cm (19.5 in) canonly be used by the government. InterestinglyGeoEye-2, scheduled for launch in 2011 or2012 will have a 25 cm (10 in) resolution butstill only available to the government.India is also willing to get its own GPSsystem by 2012, called the Indian RegionalNavigational Satellite System (IRNSS), an Moons surface taken from lunar orbit byautonomous regional satellite navigation Chandrayaan-1system. As for Russia, Europe and China, the The bright terrain on the lower left is the rim ofrequirement of such a navigation system is 117 km wide Moretus crater. Taken over the polardriven by the fact that access to the Global region of the moon, November 15, 2008.Navigation Satellite Systems, GPS, owned bythe United States is not guaranteed in hostilesituations.As the Chinese CNSA, the Indian ISRO is also collaborating with other space agencies,NASA on the Moon probe mission and the Russian RFSA on manned flights. The IndianSpace Research Organization (ISRO) is planning to launch the first manned flight in 2015 andis already claiming that an Indian astronaut will walk on the moon by 2025.The last 3rd of January 2009, ISRO revealed some details of its manned program and theorbiting crew capsule, weighing 3 tons and planned to host 2 astronauts at an orbit of 400 Km(248 miles) around the Earth. The capsule will be designed to carry three people; a futureversion will be equipped with a rendezvous and docking capability.Hard to not be stroke by the low budget dedicated to the Indian manned program. Only $2Bover 10 years. The three quarters of this amount is used by NASA for each launch of theSpace Shuttle and the recent delays of the Discovery STS-119 mission just confirm theanalysis of my first post on the Shuttle program: The maintenance of the shuttle is so costlythat it overrides overwhelmingly its return on investment as a reusable spacecraft.The Indian government did yet approve the budget of the manned program but the designalready started in 2006, with "just" $20M. Will India be the third nation to walk on the moonin 2025, a year after the Chinese? All will depend on the mission readiness and theeconomical context. The current global recession will definitely have an impact on both spaceprograms.
  3. 3. PSLV5 Typical Flight ProfileIn the meantime, dates announcements of Lunar Missions are firing up every month,reflecting the eagerness of each nation to be the first on the Moon after the United States.Retrospectively, the schedule of the man return to the Moon in 2018 for the US, 2024 forChina and 2025 for India is interesting.The 2018 - 2024 period will be definitely a remake of the sixties and the excitement of therace to the Moon of the Apollo program.With a cost of "only" $83 M, Chandrayaan-1, the Indian lunar probe, is considered the mostinexpensive lunar probe ever launched. Its cost is nearly one-third of Chinas Change-1 andone-sixth of Japans Kaguya. "With a minuscule budget, we have mastered cutting-edgetechnology in space," says Indian Space Research Organisation chairman G Madhavan Nair.Asia reinvented the economics of space programs and India is optimizing them, reminding usthat tremendous investments are not a mandatory prerequisite to be in orbit around the Earth.Its a lesson to learn for all those who design launchers but forget to question their efficiency.Despite many projects, the state of art of space launchers hasnt yet come up with a viablealternative to disposable rockets.Thousand of miles to the West, while China and India race for new challenges and stunningannouncements, Europe seems quiet.
  4. 4. Nadir Belarbi received an Engineering degree from the University of Science and Technology ofOran, Algeria (1993), a Master Degree in Networks and Telecommunications from Paris V University& Sup Telecom Paris, France (1994), studied 3 years of studies and research on Intelligent Networksduring a PhD program (1997) and received an Executive MBA from the Chicago University, BoothGraduate School of Business, USA (2008). He has worked for IBM, Air France, Groupe Danone andDannon US. He is currently (2012) an IT Program Director at The Canadian National (CN).Nadir Belarbi’s research has spanned a large number of disciplines, emphasizing informationtechnology and telecommunications with a focus on emerging technologies. As a manager with multi-cultural skills speaking five languages, he worked in an international environment where he specializedin the coordination and lobbying of global organizations.His political and social experience ranges from heading the corporate work council to participating inpolitical and geopolitical organizations and think tanks. With a major interest in Intelligence,Technology & Energy roles in Geopolitical, Military & Security issues, he is now managing aLinkedIn group and a Portal ( on Business, Innovation & Geopolitics.