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Real reason behind ISRO's boost in space business
In the month of February, India broke a record. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched a staggering 104 satellites into orbit, breaking the previous record of 37 satellites by a Russian rocket in 2014.

"It was a remarkable feat and a very proud moment for the Indian space community and the entire country," said Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister on India, in a tweet.

Sending such a large number of satellites into space was possible only because all but one of the satellites were nanosats weighing less than 10 kg. The majority of them were from the USA, 2 of them were from India, and one each from Kazakhstan, Israel, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UAE. The only non-nanosat was from Indian Space Research Organization, designed for the purpose of imagining and mapping applications. It was a heavyweight, weighing more than 750 kg.

Still, the accomplishment was in no terms an ordinary one. The engineers had to precisely calculate the trajectories and choreograph the satellites very carefully. And such was the precision that no crashes occurred. Mission accomplished!

ISRO appears to be everywhere these days. Our government is continuously boosting its budget year after year. ISRO is now planning an orbiter-lander-rover mission back to the moon, another satellite mission to Mars and an orbiter to Venus.

One more reason for ISRO's popularity is that in the early days, its goals were pretty much different from those of the United States and the Soviet Union, which focused on human space exploration.

Instead, India was keen in developing its satellite capabilities for mapping and surveying crops and damage from natural calamities & erosion. Further, it also used the satellite communication to bring telemedicine and telecommunication to rural & remote areas.

The founder of ISRO, Vikram Sarabhai, when arguing for the fact that a developing nation like our country would need space, said "We do not have the fantasy of competing with the economically advanced nations in the exploration of the moon or other planets or manned space-flight," he said, "but we are convinced that if we are to play a meaningful role nationally, and in the community of nations, we must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society." One reason to be skeptical that new nationalism is behind the rise is that the modern space community in India is very heavily technocratic.

This implies that the scientists and engineers are the participators when it comes to program objectives and unlike NASA, which tends to have some of its big-budget missions set by the US President. ISRO has more of a bottom to up approach to bigger initiatives. One possible reason ISRO seems to be booming could come from the growing market for space in general. A report in 2015 from the Space Foundation estimated that the entire global space economy is worth $323 billion. Particularly, small and inexpensive satellites, like the ones ISRO had launched in February, are becoming even more popular.

Still, there might be another reason for ISRO's rise, suggests Sankaran. Speaking at the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland, Sankaran speaks of the 'explosion of media coverage'. From the past, ISRO's culture has been dictated by the scientists who remained clear of the spotlight. It's taken a toll of many many years for the media relations side of ISRO to catch up.

At the same time, ISRO is working on adding a significant boost to its rockets. For example, in order to even get MOM, which was launched on a PSLV, to Mars, the orbiter had to take extra spins around Earth using its own thrusters to boost it ever higher so that it could eventually escape the planet's gravity. But with every step, ISRO is growing day by day.

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