Text of the remarks by Vice-President and Chairman, Rajya Sabha at the commencement of discussion on "India's glorious space journey marked by successful soft landing of Chandrayaan-3"

azadi ka amrit mahotsav

Hon’ble Members,

It gives me immense pride that we are going to have a discussion on the achievements of India in space exploration to commemorate the glorious accomplishments of our space scientists. From the inception of our space programme, we have consistently pushed the boundaries of space exploration and our achievements in this domain. These have catapulted the nation onto the global center-stage. From Chandrayaan missions to the Moon, Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan) and Aditya Ll’s solar exploration, India has shown that the sky is not the limit; it’s just the beginning.

 Over the span of nearly six decades, India’s space programme has seen the country evolve from a nation relying on foreign launch vehicles to becoming fully self-reliant with its indigenous launch capabilities. Notably, India has not only developed the capacity to launch its own satellites but has also extended its services to launch satellites for other countries. From January 2018 to November 2022, the ISRO achieved a significant milestone by successfully launching a total of 177 foreign satellites from a diverse array of countries. So far we have launched 424 foreign satellites of which more than 90% (389) were launched in the last 9 years. USA (231), UK (86) and Singapore (20) are the top three beneficiaries of India’s International cooperation in this sector.

 Having diligently attended to our country’s developmental needs through our space endeavours from enhancing communication infrastructure to enabling remote sensing and weather forecasting, it is only natural that we now decisively turn our focus towards the uncharted realms of planetary exploration and deep space missions.

 With the latest successful Chandrayaan-3 mission, India’s space agency, ISRO, has etched its name in the annals of space exploration. India is only the fourth country in history to have soft landed a spacecraft on the moon and the first to have done so in the moon’s South Polar region.

 Exhibiting tremendous tenacity and turning failures into stepping stones for future success, ISRO took away the right lessons from the preceding Chandrayaan 2 mission. As Governor of the state of West Bengal, I was in the Science City Kolkata on 7th September, 2019 with the group of young boys and girls. I had remarked that Chandrayaan 2 was a major success though it was not 100 percent. The lessons we had learnt from this mission helped us to see ultimate success in Chandrayaan 3.

 With this achievement, India is now a member of the Artemis Accords, the U.S.-led multilateral initiative to place humans on the moon by 2025 and subsequently advance human space exploration throughout our solar system’s broader vicinity.

 Our achievements reach beyond the lunar surface. India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, unofficially known as Mangalyaan, showcased our ability to reach the Red Planet on our maiden attempt. The Mangalyaan spacecraft successfully entered Mars orbit on September 23, 2014, making ISRO only the first Asian and the fourth country in the world to do so and it achieved this feat with unparalleled cost-effectiveness.

 Just as we were celebrating the achievements of the Chandrayaan-3 Mission, ISRO unveiled yet another ambitious endeavour – the Aditya L 1 Mission. Launched just last week, this mission seeks to gain a deeper understanding of the Sun from a unique vantage point approximately 1.5 million kilometers away from Earth that allows for continuous and uninterrupted study of the Sun. With this mission, India is poised to join an exclusive group of countries dedicated to the study of our nearest star, the Sun.

 Following its successful missions to explore the Sun and the Moon, ISRO has an array of exciting future endeavours. I am delighted to know that it is now setting its sights on the second most scorching planet in our solar system, Venus. Shrukrayaan-1, ISRO’s upcoming spacecraft, will likely be launched by the end of December 2024. Our scientists and engineers have meticulously crafted Shukrayaan-1 to withstand the extreme conditions of Venus and to operate under the most challenging circumstances.

 With three more launches on the horizon, spanning this year and the next, ISRO is positioned to advance Earth monitoring, demonstrate advanced capabilities for precision proximity operations in space and explore some of the most enigmatic objects in the universe.

 Having said that, I believe ISRO’s journey into space exploration has been nothing short of extraordinary. Its achievements in reaching uncharted territories in space garnered international attention. What truly sets ISRO apart, however, is its ability to achieve these remarkable feats at a fraction of the cost when compared to some of the world’s other major space agencies, such as NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). Emphasis on indigenization of critical components and reducing reliance on imports has been a critical aspect of its cost-effective approach and has indeed sparked discussions within the international space community.

 Taking a giant leap toward a brighter, more innovative and economically robust future in space exploration, the Indian Space Policy of 2023 welcomes private enterprises into the realm of space exploration. It acknowledges that the private sector possesses the innovative spark, the entrepreneurial spirit and the financial acumen to propel India’s space ambitions to greater heights. The implications of this decision are profound.

 India’s journey in space exploration is indeed a matter of national pride. As we look forward to many more chapters of discovery, innovation and global collaboration in the thrilling saga of space exploration, let us celebrate Bharat’s unstoppable journey to greatness!





Source PIB