Asia Minute: India’s Growing Space Ambitions

Feb 16, 2017

Credit Wikimedia Commons

It’s been a historic week for India’s space program. On Wednesday, the country sent a rocket into the atmosphere carrying a record number of satellites into orbit. The launch got a lot of attention around the Asia Pacific….and brings renewed attention to the India’s space ambitions. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


The headline number seems astounding: 104 satellites launched in a single rocket mission from India.

That nearly triples the old record of 37 launched by Russia three years ago.

Most of the satellites were small—about ten pounds apiece called “nano-satellites.” 88 of them are owned by a single company—San Francisco-based Planet Labs.

They’ll be used with other existing satellites to produce images of the entire land mass of the earth. Other small satellites came from Kazakhstan, Israel, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates.

India launched two of its own nano-satellites along with a larger observation satellite of about 1,500 pounds.

But the bigger story may be India’s dogged pursuit of the growing global space business. The country has developed a reputation for relatively inexpensive satellite launches. The Wall Street Journal reports the Indian Space Research Organization has now put 226 satellites into orbit—including 180 from various foreign countries.

It’s definitely a lucrative market.

A U.S. research group called the Space Foundation says the worldwide space business is worth more than $320 billion with commercial space enterprises making up about three-quarters of that figure.