By Vikrant Rana and Shantam Sharma
In the realm of space exploration, India has been making remarkable strides. The recent endeavors of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) have once again captured the world’s attention as they seek to establish contact 1 with the Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander2 and Pragyan rover, dormant on the lunar surface. In this unfolding cosmic drama, as ISRO extends its efforts to reawaken this silent explorer, the world is reminded of the boundless potential and enduring benefits of India’s foray into space. As India prepares for a hopeful awakening of the rover, the country’s achievements in lunar exploration are paving the way for unprecedented economic growth and opportunities.
India’s Thriving Space-Tech Ecosystem
India’s journey into space exploration has been marked by substantial growth and innovation. Over six decades since its first rocket launch, India now boasts a thriving private space-tech ecosystem, led by visionary entrepreneurs. The space economy in India, which was valued at over $9.6 billion in 2020, is poised to grow further, potentially reaching $13 billion by 2025, according to EY India.3
Today, India boasts more than 140 registered space-tech startups4, including companies like Skyroot, SatSure, Dhruva Space, and Bellatrix. These startups are actively engaged in developing technologies with real-world applications, such as satellite-based communication, broadband services, 5G connectivity, solar farms, and much more. Chandrayaan-3 positions India as a cost-effective satellite launcher, which will benefit sectors like aerospace and defense. India’s contribution to the global space economy, currently at 2-3%, is projected to increase to 8-10% in the next 8-10 years. This substantial growth could be a game-changer for India’s space-tech startups and the broader economy.
Chandrayaan-3 and Economic Opportunities
1. Investment Boost:
The successful launch and operation of Chandrayaan-3 could boost investor confidence and attract more private investment in space technology. Private companies are increasingly eager to participate in lunar exploration, driven by the potential for lucrative returns. Success in Chandrayaan-3 can promote cost-efficient and reliable space-grade hardware developed by the Indian space industry. This, in turn, can lead to increased revenue flow and investments into the industry. One of the immediate impacts of Chandrayaan-3’s success would be the bolstering of investor confidence and increased private investment in the space technology sector.
Foreign companies, like Google, have already shown interest in investing in India’s space-tech startups, and this interest is likely to soar following Chandrayaan-3’s success. The moon is considered a gateway to the next phase of space exploration and the in-space economy. Investments in the space industry have been steadily increasing, and countries with the capability to contribute have more opportunities for global investments. This presents a golden opportunity for India to attract joint ventures, fostering the growth of Indian companies and startups in the space sector. Chandrayaan-3’s success not only boosts India’s global image but also strengthens the ‘Make in India’ brand. It contributes to the growth of home-grown companies engaged in the development of satellite systems, telecommunications, and more.
2. Job Creation and Economic Growth:
India’s space-tech ecosystem has the potential to generate thousands of jobs, both blue-collar and white-collar. The space industry requires high-tech skills in science and engineering, providing a strategic asset for the country. As India embarks on more space missions, it is expected to generate thousands of direct high-tech jobs and numerous indirect jobs in the space sector. Chandrayaan-3 has opened commercial opportunities for Indian companies and startups in the space sector, contributing to economic growth and innovation.
3. Global Positioning:
The success of Chandrayaan-3 has positioned India among the top technologically advanced space nations globally. This achievement can lead to essential international collaborations, similar to the recent Artemis Accord5 signed between ISRO and NASA. India’s strong position in lunar exploration can make it a significant player in the global space race, particularly as Russia faces economic pressure, potentially paving the way for India to compete and strengthen its position.
4. Lunar Resources and Business Prospects:
The Moon is rich in resources like helium-3, water, metals, rare earth elements, and solar power potential. These resources can be harnessed for various purposes, including fuel production, construction, advanced technology development, and power generation.
Lunar resources, especially water, can serve as a pit stop for future missions to Mars, making the Moon a pivotal point in space exploration. The in-situ resource utilization on the moon can lead to economic growth through mining resources like regolith, which can be used for nuclear fusion reactors or construction. The presence of water on the moon’s poles provides an invaluable resource for fuel and rocket propulsion, making the moon a potential pit stop on the way to Mars and beyond. Businesses, including mining companies, are eyeing the Moon’s resources, anticipating significant opportunities in the lunar market. Estimates suggest a potential $137 billion6 in opportunities over the next decade.
India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission represents not only a scientific milestone but also a gateway to a thriving lunar business sector. The mission’s success has the potential boost investor confidence and attract private investments but also create thousands of jobs and open up commercial opportunities for Indian companies and startups. India’s position in the global space community will be further solidified, and the nation will play a crucial role in shaping the future of lunar exploration and economic growth.
In the race to the moon, India stands as a formidable contender, offering its expertise and resources to an ever-expanding space economy. As the world watches Chandrayaan-3’s journey, India’s lunar ambitions are poised to become a driving force for economic growth, technological advancement, and global collaboration in the realm of space exploration.
1 Available at: https://www.livemint.com/science/chandrayaan3-live-updates-chandrayaan-2nd-phase-isro-vikram-lander-pragyan-rover-revive-lunar-mission-latest-updates-11695435434748.html
2 For further reading: https://ssrana.in/articles/chandrayaan-3-journey-towards-the-final-frontier/
3 Available at: https://www.ey.com/en_in/aerospace-defense/the-dawn-of-the-space-economy-in-india#:~:text=The%20space%20economy%20in%20India%20is%20set%20to%20grow%20to,at%20a%20CAGR%20of%206%25.&text=Space%2Dbased%20communication%20will%20be,the%20digital%20divide%20in%20India
4 Available at: https://government.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/digital-india/with-over-140-space-startups-india-has-gained-sound-footing-globally-jitendra-singh/101544205
5 Available at: https://www.barandbench.com/law-firms/view-point/indias-strategic-move-signing-the-artemis-accords-propels-space-exploration-ambitions-beyond-the-moon-agreement
6 Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com/nasa-helping-private-companies-build-business-moon-make-lunar-billions-2023-6