The Department of Space expenditure has been slashed by 8% in the 2023-24 Union Budget, down to ₹12,543.91 crore, from ₹13,700 crore in the previous Budget estimate. However this is 19% higher than the revised estimate from the last fiscal.
The biggest cut is for space technology, under ‘Central Sector Schemes’, of ₹1,093.84 crore. This header encompasses the expenditure of ISRO’s various centres, including the Human Spaceflight Centre, as well as “developmental and operation projects” involving satellites and launch vehicles.
The allocation for the Semi-Conductor Laboratory, an autonomous body, has gone from ₹400 crore to zero, since the facility has been moved out from under the Department of Space as part of the India Semiconductor Mission.
Notably, the expenditure for space science, which includes the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) science missions such as Chandrayaan 3, Aditya L1, and its Climate and Atmospheric Programme, has received a nominal cut of 32% from the previous budget estimate.
Many science missions are already delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and non-availability of launch vehicles thanks to low manufacturing output and commercial launch commitments. Late January, ISRO chairman S. Somanath said Aditya L1 is expected to launch around July 2023.
ISRO is expected to achieve 84% human spaceflight capability for its Gaganyaan mission in 2023-24. It is also expected to launch 13 satellites on four PSLV launches, three satellites on two GSLV launches, and one on its new SSLV rocket, with a projected commercial revenue of ₹331.5 crore.
The INSAT satellite system has received a hike of ₹112 crore and is expected to generate a revenue of ₹445 crore in 2023-2024 by “providing satcom services”.