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kasturirangan: Research inputs into space programme from universities need to go up, says Kasturirangan

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Former ISRO Chairman K Kasturirangan has called for creating more departments of aeronautics and aerospace in universities, and facilities in the field in the country to enhance research inputs into India’s space programme. Speaking to PTI here, he also indicated that he expects investment into the space sector to go up by two to three times from the present level as the Government is keen to support this field.

“We need to make sure that we have a good education system which produces the best aeronautics and aerospace people. So, more universities need to create that department and facilities. If necessary, ISRO should have a special programme to improve the educational component of it,” the veteran space scientist, who was the Chairman of the National Education Policy draft committee, said.

Research in universities also needs to be brought up to higher levels so that they can contribute to the space programme. Right now, research inputs into the space programme from universities is very limited, whereas ISRO does support research to some extent with various universities.

“Eighty per cent of the students go to universities. So, youngsters are all there, bright minds are there. So, we need to improve that. Research, education and innovation, and industrialisation…these are things which can have much more scope”, Kasturirangan, a former member of the now defunct Planning Commission of India, said.

Kasturirangan said he is extremely happy that the present government has created institutions such as the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) and NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) whIch have promoted industrialisation, commercialisation and freer international collaboration.

These initiatives are already showing their outcome in terms of the number of missions that have increased, and type of income that they are generating, among others, he pointed out over the weekend. “So, this is the direction in which it’s going and ISRO is core intellectual organisation, will (continue to) undertake cutting edge technology and science activities; the operational capabilities, service capabilities they will hand it over to some of these institutions and they in turn will create organisation systems or industries which will further take up and also through international collaboration and enhance the activities and financial viability,” he said. Asked if funding needs to go up for the space programmes, Kasturirangan, a former member of the Rajya Sabha, said he has seen this government’s general disposition towards programmes which are fructifying in the country and doing well.

“And the Prime Minister, I know, is very keen that space sector should be supported at all costs, and we have to be right at the top in terms of the countries which are now pioneers in space. Therefore, I don’t think the government will be found wanting in terms of support”, he said.

“Currently, it’s between USD two and three billion dollars per year is the kind of investment that we are making (in the space sector). I am sure that we can easily go up by two to three times which is a very large type of money for the type of work we can do because of all sorts of cost-effectiveness and so on,” he said.

“So, I don’t think this government will starve the organisation of the funds. They have a determination to make sure that India is right at the top and work with countries which are in the forefront of space programmes in the 21st century and be a partner in major ventures on space along with other countries in the world which have similar capabilities, and resources with which we can join up. So, this is something which is a model which is slowly developing. So, I am not worried that we will be found wanting in terms of this,” Kasturirangan added.

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