Chandrayaan-3 Success Boosts India's Space Sector and Global Ambitions

Chandrayaan-3 Success Boosts India's Space Sector and Global Ambitions

BENGALURU/WASHINGTON- India's ambitious mission, Chandrayaan-3, set to land on the moon's south pole this week, represents a multifaceted endeavor.

Beyond scientific exploration, it embodies political prestige and financial potential.

Initially, Russia's Luna-25 had been on track to reach the lunar south pole first, but a recent crash may jeopardize its funding for future missions.

This moon race evokes memories of the 1960s space race between the United States and the Soviet Union.

However, today's competition takes place in a business-oriented space age. The moon's south pole, with its water ice reserves, has become a coveted asset with potential for supporting lunar colonies, mining ventures, and even missions to Mars.

Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership, India is privatizing space launches and seeking foreign investment to expand its presence in the global launch market, aiming for a five-fold increase in market share within the next decade.

Should Chandrayaan-3 achieve its lunar landing, India's space sector is poised to leverage its reputation for cost-effective engineering. Remarkably, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) accomplished this mission with a budget of approximately $74 million.

To put this in perspective, NASA's Artemis moon program is estimated to cost around $93 billion through 2025, according to the U.S. space agency's inspector general. This stark cost contrast highlights India's potential to excel in the global space arena.

Ajey Lele, a consultant at New Delhi's Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, pointed out that the success of this mission elevates the profiles of everyone involved. It also signifies that ISRO's achievements are viewed on the world stage, rather than in isolation.

Meanwhile, Russia, despite facing Western sanctions due to the Ukraine conflict and growing isolation, managed to launch the Luna-25 moon mission. However, doubts loom over Russia's capacity to fund a follow-up mission. Russia has not disclosed the expenditures for the Luna-25 mission, and independent space expert Vadim Lukashevich in Moscow noted that expenses for space exploration are continually shrinking year by year.

Russia's financial focus on the Ukraine conflict makes it highly improbable for a Luna-25 repeat, according to experts. Previously, Russia had considered participation in NASA's Artemis program, but in 2021, it opted to collaborate with China on moon-related endeavors, although details of this partnership remain undisclosed.

China, having achieved the first-ever soft landing on the moon's far side in 2019, has committed substantial resources to its space program. Estimates from space research firm Euroconsult suggest that China allocated $12 billion to its space efforts in 2022.

India is now taking cues from NASA's approach to private sector involvement. NASA's partnership with SpaceX, Elon Musk's company, for the development of the Starship rocket, exemplifies this strategy. Beyond a $3-billion contract for lunar missions, SpaceX plans to invest around $2 billion in Starship this year.

U.S. space firms like Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines are also working on lunar landers scheduled for launch to the moon's south pole in the coming years. Private companies such as Axiom Space and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin are even pursuing privately funded successors to the International Space Station, with Axiom recently securing $350 million in investments from Saudi and South Korean backers.

Despite these developments, space exploration remains fraught with risks. India's previous moon landing attempt failed in 2019, and that same year, an Israeli startup experienced a setback in its privately funded lunar landing mission. More recently, Japanese startup ispace faced a failed landing attempt in 2023.

Bethany Ehlmann, a professor at the California Institute of Technology involved in a 2024 mission with NASA to map the lunar south pole and its water ice, emphasized the inherent challenges of lunar exploration, remarking that "the moon seems to be eating spacecraft" in recent years.

The comments posted here are not from Cnews Live. Kindly refrain from using derogatory, personal, or obscene words in your comments.