SpaceX Crew Dragon
Why in News
- Recently, a spacecraft, Crew Dragon, built by SpaceX has successfully carried astronauts of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the International Space Station.
- SpaceX became the first private company to launch people (human spaceflight) into orbit, a feat achieved by the US, Russia & China.
- Crew Dragon:
- It is a part of the Dragon 2, a class of reusable spacecraft developed and manufactured by American aerospace manufacturer SpaceX.
- It is the fifth class of US spacecraft to take human beings into orbit, after the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs.
- The rocket, named Falcon 9, which carried the spaceship into the orbit, was also built by SpaceX.
- It is done under the Demo-2 Mission of NASA and SpaceX.
- Significance of Private Participation:
- The landing by SpaceX flight is a culmination of more than decade-long efforts to enable private players to build and operate what essentially is a commercial taxi-service to space, and allow NASA to concentrate on deep space exploration, and work more vigorously towards taking humans to the moon, and Mars.
- The United States now plans to return to the Moon in 2024 under the Artemis mission, establishing a launching pad to Mars by 2030.
- India and Private Space Companies:
- While there are many private companies operating in the space sector in the United States, their contribution is not much significant in India.
- Most of them collaborate with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), in building and fabricating the components that go into making rockets and satellites.
- However, launch services, including the building of rockets or launch vehicles are still a monopoly of government space agency, i.e. ISRO.
Importance of Private Participation in India
- Space tourism is one among several opportunities that Indian businesses may be keen to explore. A policy framework to enable private participation in this sector, of course, would have to be formulated by the government.
- Small satellite revolution is underway, globally, 17,000 small satellites are expected to be launched between 2020 and 2030. A strong private sector in space will help India to tap into this lucrative commercial space launch market.
- Increasing space competitiveness:
- Singapore is offering itself as a hub for space entrepreneurship based on its legal environment, availability of skilled manpower and equatorial location.
- New Zealand is positioning itself as a location for private rocket launches.
- China, too, has changed its rules to allow private commercial space activity.
- ISRO has been a genuine global pioneer of aerospatial cost compression on several fronts. Cost-effectiveness has given the agency a distinct edge in the commercial arena of satellite launch services.
- With such a valuable base of expertise within the country, it is only natural to expect the emergence of a private space industry that could prove globally competitive.
- The landing by the SpaceX flight underlines the fact that space research and exploration is now a much more collaborative enterprise than earlier.
- There is also a growing realisation that space agencies need to direct their energies and resources more towards scientific research and deep space exploration.
- It’s been fifty years since the landing on the moon and efforts to take human beings to Mars and other celestial bodies, needs to be expedited.
- Getting back to the Moon would also require huge amounts of financial resources that most of the space agencies and private players are expected to infuse fresh investments and also technological innovation that will benefit everyone.