Access to space is becoming more strategic than ever and the key to low-cost access is to have reusable launch vehicles, Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) here P.S. Veeraraghavan has said. He was delivering the first Ramanathan Natarajan Memorial lecture on ‘Autonomous Access to Space—Opportunities and Challenges’ at Technopark here on Wednesday.

“Space missions depend on the economy of a nation. India cannot get unlimited funds for space programmes. If we can develop such reusable launch vehicles, there can be high economic success. Such vehicles can deliver the payload into the space and return, and can prepare for the next launch,” he said.

Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) had been submitted for the government’s approval. If we invested in human resource and if there was more budget allocation for such space programmes, we could achieve higher levels of success, he said. Such missions could also solve the issue of space debris [manmade debris in space such as defunct satellites, explosion fragments and so on].

Already 15,000 such objects had been catalogued by the United States Space Command. India also actively took part in IADC (Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee) activities, said Mr. Veeraraghavan.

After the success of Chandrayaan, the country’s second mission, in association with Russia, to the Moon, Chandrayaan-2, was getting ready for launch the coming year. It would be launched on Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark (GSLV-Mk II). The test phase for GSLV-Mk III was also scheduled for the coming year.

Future programmes

The future space programmes include Astro Sat; a national space observatory; Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS); and Aditya-1, a mini satellite for studying the solar corona. [Solar corona is a type of plasma atmosphere seen in celestial bodies.] ISRO was also waiting for the government’s approval for its ambitious ‘Mission to Mars’ project.

The lecture was organised by Tata Elxsi, a Technopark-based company, as part of its annual technical events held in memory of its visionary mentor Ramanathan Natarajan. Its Trivandrum Research Centre (TRC) on Technopark campus was renamed Ramanathan Natarajan Development Centre (RNDC).