India's Remarkable Achievement in Space Exploration
India celebrates successful Chandrayaan-3 landing near the moon's south pole, showcasing commitment to science and technology. Growing potential in space contracting, but challenges remain for India's goal of becoming an industrial powerhouse.
Troy D. Hanson
August 31, 2023
India celebrated a momentous milestone in its journey towards becoming an advanced industrial nation with the successful landing of Chandrayaan-3 near the moon's south pole on August 23rd. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is expected to win a third term next year, hailed this achievement as a testament to India's commitment to science and technology, emphasizing their significance in shaping the nation's promising future.
Chandrayaan-3's groundbreaking touchdown on the challenging, crater-filled lunar surface evoked a sense of pride and unity in the diverse and populous nation of 1.4 billion people. This moment became even more significant as a Russian mission faced failure just days before India's accomplishment. Ravi Chaturvedi, the Indian-born co-founder of Tufts University's Digital Planet program, described the event as symbolizing the collective hopes and aspirations of billions.
It is worth noting that all critical systems for Chandrayaan-3 were developed within India. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) assembled a stellar team of Indian conglomerates, such as Godrej Aerospace and Tata Consulting Engineers, to contribute to the project. Godrej Aerospace provided the Vikas engine, while Tata Consulting Engineers played a significant role in the propellant system. Remarkably, the entire mission cost around $75 million, a figure Prime Minister Modi highlighted as being lower than the budget of a Hollywood film centered around space exploration.
India's achievements in space exploration serve as a testament to the country's commitment to scientific progress and its vision for a brighter future. These remarkable accomplishments bring India one step closer to its goal of establishing itself as a leading player among advanced industrial nations.
India's Growing Space Contracting Potential
Shares in several engineering start-ups in India have experienced a significant surge this year due to their perceived potential in space contracting. Companies like Zen Technologies (ticker: ZENTEC.India), PTC Industries (PTCIL.India), and Centum Electronics (CENTUM.India) have generated a great deal of interest. According to Benjamin Silverstein, a space research analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, India is witnessing the emergence of numerous space start-ups, some of which have already introduced tangible products.
However, despite this promising development, India's journey towards becoming a leading industrial power faces major hurdles. Prime Minister Modi initiated the "Make in India" program with the aim of boosting manufacturing when he came into office in 2014, but progress has been limited. Manufacturing's contribution to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) has remained stagnant at approximately 18%, while China's manufacturing sector accounts for 28% of its GDP, according to S&P Global.
Modi has set an ambitious target of raising India's manufacturing share to 25% by 2025. Yet, there are significant policy-related obstacles in his way. The government continues to implement import tariffs on various inputs required for increasing exports, which hampers the growth of domestic suppliers. The United States Trade Representative highlighted this issue in a recent report, stating that the Indian government has consistently imposed both tariff and non-tariff barriers in order to protect local industries across multiple sectors.
It is evident that while India may be experiencing a boom in space-related start-ups, the country still needs to address these policy challenges to fulfill its aspirations of advancing as a major industrial powerhouse.