The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is working on developing space tourism capability in a bid to score a chunk of the pie, which is set to become a multi-million-dollar market in the coming years.
Science & Technology Minister Dr Jitendra Singh said that the space agency is in the process of developing indigenous capabilities towards space tourism through the demonstration of human space flight capability to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). He added that Isro is currently working with 61 countries of the world in different fields of space activity.
The space tourism market has catapulted in the last couple of years with private aerospace companies dominating the field as government space agencies playing catch up. Elon Musk founded SpaceX is leading the space tourism market with its Dragon spacecraft taking people on tourism flights in zero gravity.
Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos-led Blue Origin is another big player with its New Shepard spacecraft launching from West Texas with passengers in brief joyrides to space. The flights last nearly 10 minutes, giving the passengers a view of the Earth from outside it. Isro is currently working on several other missions as it looks to conduct its first human spaceflight launch with the Gaganyaan mission, with an uncrewed launch delayed to next year.
Isro had in May this year successfully conducted a static fire test of the boosters that will power India’s maiden astronaut mission. While the four unnamed Indian Air Force officers continue to train for the mission, the ground qualification tests of launch vehicle propulsion stages have also been commenced and successfully progressing.
Being developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the Gaganyaan crew module will be the first indigenous spacecraft to take Indian astronauts into space and return them safely to Earth.
The minister also informed that the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) seeks to promote active participation of the private sector in carrying out end-to-end space activities, which includes space tourism as well. IN-SPACe will come up with mechanisms to enable sharing of technical facilities and expertise available across ISRO Centres with private entities.
The minister further informed that the Department of Space (DOS) is in the process of drafting a comprehensive, integrated Space Policy, which shall provide direction to the activities of the private Indian space industry.