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ISRO: Second Space Age

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Awareness in the fields of Space


Source: TH

 Context: India’s modest entry into the First Space Age followed by its many gains should be used to help the country tap the vast potential of the Second Space Age.



First Space AgeSecond Space Age
Began in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik 1 and ended in 1991Began in the 1990s and continues to the present day
US and USSR governments dominated with 60-120 space launches annuallyMore actors involved, including countries and private companies
Mostly government-owned and controlled90% of global space launches since 2020 are by and for the private sector
India’s space journey started in the 1960s with the launch of the U.S.-supplied Nike-Apache sounding rocket and the establishment of ISRO in 1969, which prioritizes societal benefitsThe emergence of cable TV, d2h, smartphones, Broadband, OTT, and 5G led to increased demand for satellite transponders and ground-based services


Journey of ISRO:

The Indian private sector in the Second Space Age:

  • From less than a dozen space start-ups five years ago, there are over 100 today.
  • The pace of investment is growing (from $30 million in 2018, it doubled to $65 million in 2021).


Size of Indian space economy: Estimated to be about $10 billion in 2020 and expected to be $13 billion by 2025 (global space economy – from $450 to $600 billion between 2020-25).



  • Much greater ~$60 billion by 2030.
  • The private sector is poised for take-off as a transformative growth multiplier.


How can this potential be achieved?

  • Enabling policy and regulatory environment, directly creating over 2 lakh jobs.
  • In terms of end-user revenue, media and entertainment account for 26% of India’s space economy, with consumer and retail services accounting for another 21%.
    • The share generated by the government needs to be increased (from only a fifth now).
  • In terms of space activities, the share of upstream activities needs to be increased.
    • Downstream activities are dominant – over 70% of India’s space economy.
    • Upstream activities of satellite manufacturing and launch services contribute to the smaller share.


Challenge and opportunity: Regulation of the Indian private sector domain, which also provides a scope of expansion.


Insta Links:

Milestones in India’s Space Programme


Mains Links:

Discuss India’s achievements in the field of Space Science and Technology. How has the application of this technology helped India in its socioeconomic development? (UPSC 2016)


Prelims Links: (UPSC 2016)

With reference to `Astrosat’, the astronomical observatory launched by India, which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. Other than the USA and Russia, India is the only country to have launched a similar observatory into space.
  2. Astrosat is a 2000 kg satellite placed in an orbit at 1650 km above the surface of the Earth.


Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2


Ans: D