Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS & UPPSC Mains Exam: Paper - IV (General Studies – III) - 21 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. “Private space industry could take over lower earth orbit (LEO) in the space. ” In this context, discuss the pros and cons of the privatization of space exploration. Suggest measures to regulate the private sector in field of space exploration.

Model Answer:

  • Introduction
  • Startups
  • Traditional business model to space privatization
  • Privatization of Space industry: Pros and Cons
  • Some challenges related to privatization of space
  • Promotion of Space privatization & regulation

Introduction:

Ever since 2004, when privatized space travel was legalized in the United States, the number of private companies playing the “Space” arena has only increased. Private firms like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Indian billionaire Naveen Jain promoted Moon Express and Jeff Bezos owned Blue Origin serve as robust examples for privatization in space.

Startups:

SpaceX, One web, Blue Origin, Moon Express and Planet Labs, are primarily funded by private capital and fall within the definition of “New Space” companies. 

  • They build products and services that challenge the cost to either obtain access to space itself, or to access services based out of assets in sce. 
  • Within the next 10 years, more than 1,000 New Space startups are expected to kick-off around the world.
  • Startups like Team Indus, Earth2Orbit, Astrome Technologies, Bellatrix Aerospace, and  Satsure, and more. These startups are proposing value by introducing an array of “New Space” applications, like developing space-based internet service, developing a private launch vehicle, landing a rover on the Moon, and more.

Traditional business model to space privatization:

  • The traditional business model across thespace sector has transformed significantly, over the years. ISRO has been encouraging the development of India’s private space sector since the 1970s.
  • Today, the traditional space agency-driven model has grown to include several Small-Medium-Enterprises (SMEs) that mostly cater within the traditional space model.

In India:

  • Until now, the private space companies in India were only allowed to supply components, or build engines and satellite launch vehicles forISRO.
  • But the recent developments in the space will allow startups to both integrate and launch satellites.  There is a private space exploration company in India named as ‘TeamIndus’.
  • The privately funded TeamIndus is now part of a U.S. consortium that NASA has shortlisted to potentially fly scientific and commercial cargo to the moon over the next 10 years.

Privatization of Space industry: Pros and Cons

Key benefits: Extensive privatization of space would help towards forging a comprehensive ecosystem. Besides allowing the industry to support the needs of the local market, the move will also assist in taking up the turnkey development of upstream and downstream products, and services as well, for the global marketplace.

  • This will help towards boosting India’s foreign policy drives, where space will act as a major emerging tool in fostering relationships
  • New jobs will be created in the in the high-skilled-labor market to address the needs of the private space industry
  • The new focus on privatization of space will help in reversing brain-drain from the country
  • This will also instrumental in creation of more opportunities that support foreign direct investments (FDI) through the ‘Make in India’, or the ‘Digital India’ campaigns
  • This will also be directed towards avoiding circulation of tax-payer money within the ecosystem, in favour of foreign clients procuring turnkey products and services.

Some challenges related to privatization of space persist:

  • Profit motive: Imagine how something like the Hubble Space Telescope would work if it was a product of the private sector. For a private company, there would need to be a way to recoup the cost and to return a profit sufficient to attract the investors that would fund that cost. So, how does one profit from something like the Hubble Space Telescope? One would have to charge researchers to use it and one would have to sell the data obtained from it. Both of those things would impede the progress of science
  • Private companies can’t invest the kind of resources needed to build, launch, and operate a spacecraft like New Horizons or a telescope like Hubble with the hope that they’ll find ways to profit, later.
  • There are areas of space utilization that will be best fulfilled by the private sector and there are areas that are and will continue to be best fulfilled by the public sector. The relationship between the two is symbiotic, not parasitic.

Promotion of Space privatization & regulation:

  • The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) can recognize and award Indian companies who have made considerable progress in the space industry.
  • It’s an efficient step to initiate a space directory of companies, capabilities, and others; which can be accessible to anyone in the international markets.
  • The private industry for space must be encouraged to participate along with ISRO in the largest space conference in the world – the International Astronautical Congress(IAC).

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