Why do we explore outer space?

Have you ever thought why after all the humans are mad to explore space and go to where ‘no man has gone before’?
“We are about to reach Moon in about ten thousand seconds. The craft will stay there for some minutes, before we launch ourselves for the next stop, Mars and then proceed on to its moons – Phobos and Deimos. Those who are not versed with human self transportation may jump from the transport window with the button in their hands…’

Such announcement in such spacecraft may be a reality in future, when each one us on this planet earth will be able to afford to travel in space in a spacecraft may be launched by India herself. Russia has already planned it and is currently struggling with perfecting it, no matter facing some setbacks and some successes, but, this is how the progress happens. Virgin Atlantic, owned by the billionaire Richard Brosnan, is also in the striving process. It is one step forward one backward for almost every player vying for establishing space tourism operations. Such outer space touring crafts may not become reality in immediate future.

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India sent a space vehicle successfully recently. The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark – III has given India the kind of delight she was looking forward to. It also had been a success now failure now story for GSLV. But it always had been so, not just for India alone, but even for the technology leaders, who set foot on Moon almost sixty years ago. There are no short cuts here too.

India has made a big bang earlier this year when Mangalyaan entered the Martian orbit and India was the first nation to achieve that feat in its maiden attempt. India’s Chandrayaan too did not reach moon just for nothing. It has contributed in the confirmation of major finding that the Moon has water – the traces of which have been confirmed beyond doubt by the mission.

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Have you ever thought why after all the humans are mad to explore space and go to where ‘no man has gone before’? Oh! It is so simple, that space throws possibilities of unseen and unimaginable dimensions. It is the human destiny to explore and examine. It had been the eternal fascination.

On realistically analysing, space is the stage to showcase your scientific and technological prowess. If you have gone this far in space science and technology, then you definitely belong to an elite class of nations. This is the area for future where most of the happening discoveries and advances are scheduled to take place. The knowledge war of space is sure to determine the importance of a nation in the fraternity of countries. This curiosity is not only widening the knowledge of human civilization, it is taking us forward in finding answers that man always has been looking for, i.e. about the evolution and its very basis.

The advantages of engaging in the space missions are many. The technologies acquired in conquering space are immensely beneficial to the nations. Many of the technologies are for dual use, which means the technology has both civil and military applications. For example, the technology required for making of space vehicles and the one for developing missiles are very much the same. The communication network developed has not just civil utility alone; it is also very much associated with the national security. The advances required in material technology again, have several uses other than just for space missions.

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Space market today has become a multibillion dollar market. Nations may not have technological capability to launch a space vehicle, or to build a satellite, but it needs a satellite for its communication needs say for operating phone services, television channels, defense and civil communication networks, etc. Such nations hire the services of those who are having space capabilities. India’s space marketing arm earned foreign exchange worth Rs. 174 crores for the financial year 2013-14. India provides space services for satellite fabrication and launch, technical consultancies, satellite data access and sales, etc.

The December 18 launch of GSLV Mark-III was an experimental flight of the vehicle capable of placing 4 ton plus satellite in geosynchronous orbit. The vehicle also carried a CARE (Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment) module weighing 3775 kg to the height of 126 km when it was separated for its re-entry experimental studies in preparation to manned space flight sometimes in 2020. The GSLV Mark-III measured 42.4 metre high and 630 tons lift off weight.

India aspires to become a major player in the space industry befitting its emerging status in the field of advance science and technology. This is possible with the cost advantage that India enjoys.

Having interests in science and technology, L D Kala regularly writes on the subjects for newspapers and magazines. At Hill Post he writes a column on Science and Tech. He lives in Delhi

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