Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS & UPPSC Mains Exam: Paper - IV (General Studies – III) - 19 June 2019

Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS Mains Exam

Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS & UPPSC Mains Exam

UPSC Syllabus:

  • Paper-IV: General Studies -III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)

Q. India is going to have its own space station by 2030. Discuss the related challenges India going to face in this mission. How will it improve Indian position in space arena?

Model Answer:

  • Introduction
  • History of Space mission
  • Location in space
  • Proven capacity of India
  • Related challenges
  • Significance


ISRO has declared its intention to build a permanent space station for itself, possibly in the next five to seven years. After the mission to moon and Mars and a proposed manned space flight before 2022, this is the next logical step for the agency.

ISRO would be undertaking many prolonged space exploration projects and sending many astronauts into space, such that it would require a permanent station for itself.

History of Space mission:

  • For four decades since its inception in the early 1960s, ISRO had, apart from building its capacities, focused primarily on harnessing space technologies for societal benefits.
  • Yash Pal, the first director of Space Application Centre in Ahmedabad, once described India’s space mission as “almost a sociological programme” as much as a technological programme.
  • Vikram Sarabhai, the father of India’s space programme, used to repeatedly make the point that India must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to “the real problems of man and society”.
  • Even as late as in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi got all government departments to sit down with ISRO and identify the areas where space technology could help them achieve their objectives.

What is a space station?

  • A space station is like a habitable artificial satellitethat is designed to remain in space and is capable of being inhabited by crew members for an extended period of time. 
  • The space station also enables other spacecraft to dock on it for re-stocking of supplies and for the to and fro of astronauts from the earth.  
  • Presently, there is only one fully functional space station in the Earth's lower orbit, the International Space Station.

Location in space:

The Indian space station will be placed in the low earth orbit (LEO), also at 400km above the earth’s surface. The project is at a nascent stage and will be executed after 5-7 years. Costs have yet not been estimated yet.

Proven capacity of India:

  • It demonstrated its capabilities to launch all kinds of satellites and delivered close to 300 payloads of foreign countries in space in the last 12 years.
  • This service is likely to continue since it generates the much-needed revenue to fund ISRO’s various missions.

Related challenges:

  • Crew selection: There are challenges related to training of crew and the capacity to sustain life and safety of the crew on orbit and return them.
  • Development of Re-entry technology, steady platforms for operating in space for a long-term.
  • Cost: For India, It is a costly affair to have own space station and to maintain it over the years. (The ISS (International space station) spreads as long as a football fieldand costs $3 billion (~Rs. 20,000 crore) for NASA alone in maintenance cost a year and has exceeded more than 10 years and $100 billion (~Rs. 6,50,000 crore) in assembling it.)
  • The International Space Station (ISS) has been operational since 2000; the first astronauts occupied it in November of that year. It is expected to be retired by 2024 and decommissioned by 2030.
  • After 2024, China’s Tiangong is likely to be the only crewed space station in the fray, at least until India’s station takes to the skies. In that period, China and Pakistanhave already drafted a plan to fly a Pakistani astronaut onboard.
  • So, it is time for India to have its own space station and to be part of space arena.

How will it help India? : Significance

  • Separate space station would help the space agency to sustain the human space flight missions in future and it will be an extension of India’s first human space flight mission in space in 2022.
  • India has set its eye on building its own space station in low earth orbit to conduct microgravity experiments in space in 5 to 7 years.
  • The proposed Indian space station would be much smaller than the existing International Space Station (ISS), launched into orbit about 20 years by space agencies from Canada, European Union, Japan, Russia and the US.
  • The Indian station would be available for other countries to do collaborative research.
  • The timing of the announcement comes at an interesting period in the international context, as the future of the current International Space Station (ISS) – a collaborative effort of several space-faring nations such as the United States, Russia, European Union, Japan and Canada – is uncertain beyond 2024due to concrete funding commitments.

International Space Station:

  • It is basically an orbiting laboratory where its crew members conduct experiments in fields of biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology etc.
  • It is a space station, or a habitable artificial satellite, in low Earth orbit (LEO). Launched into orbit for first time in 1998, it is now largest human-made body in LEO.
  • Launched into orbit for first time in 1998, it is now largest human-made body in LEO.
  • Primary partners on project are USA’s NASA, Russia’s Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities (Roscosmos), EU’s European Space Agency (ESA), Canadian Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

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