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Kerala Plans to Develop its Capital into ‘Space City’ of India

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the State Government is planning to build a world-class space technology ecosystem in Thiruvananthapuram. “By collaborating with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and all the other organisations in the space sector, both in the State and the country, we would like to build a world-class space technology ecosystem

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the State Government is planning to build a world-class space technology ecosystem in Thiruvananthapuram. “By collaborating with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and all the other organisations in the space sector, both in the State and the country, we would like to build a world-class space technology ecosystem so that the capital city of God’s Own Country would be known as the ‘space city’ of India,” the Chief Minister said.

‘New Space – Opportunities and Way Forward’ was the theme of the two-day international conclave on Space Technology, EDGE 2020 held in Thiruvananthapuram

He was speaking after inaugurating the two-day international conclave on Space Technology, EDGE 2020, organised by India’s first Space Park under Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL) with the backing of industry and domain leaders, including ISRO, in Thiruvananthapuram recently. ‘New Space – Opportunities and Way Forward’ was the theme of the event, which was held at Raviz Beach Resort at Kovalam.“We have chosen space technology as a key industry vertical. Presence of nearly 45 per cent of scientific pool of ISRO and the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), the country’s only space and science technology institution having deemed university status, makes the Kerala capital quite a unique place suitable for developing smart space-tech ecosystem,” Pinarayi Vijayan said.“We are also committed to invest in Industry 4.0 technologies like Blockchain, Fintech, medical technologies, cyber security for financial services, augmented reality/virtual reality and space technology,” he added.In his keynote address, Dr. Arabinda Mitra, Scientific Secretary, Office of Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) to the Government of India, said the global space industry looks towards India due to the cost-effective and innovative initiatives of ISRO. “India’s economy is highly dependent on its space resources, which need to be utilised for optimal benefit. Private sector partnership and investment are the need of the hour to help tap the potential,” he said.“We have launched an initiative called Agni, which is for accelerating the growth of innovation-enabling mechanism of R&D labs, connecting startups to industry and industry to academic institutions. Another initiative, City Knowledge and Innovation Cluster, targets big and smaller tier-2 cities. We have launched this in four mega city clusters and are planning to introduce in six to eight more cities in future. We are also happy to extend this to Kerala,” Mitra added.M Sivasankar IAS, Principal Secretary, Electronics and IT, Govt. of Kerala, who welcomed the gathering, said the presence of a vibrant startup ecosystem is a big plus for the State in making a mark in the field of space technology.Catherine Suard, Consul General of France in India; Rashed Khamis Al Shemeili, Charge d’affaires of Consulate General of UAE; Sarah Fallon, Head of Science and Innovation, British High Commission; Roy M Cheriyan, Deputy Director, VSSC; and M C Dathan, Scientific Advisor to Chief Minister, Govt. of Kerala were also present. Santhosh Kurup, Special Officer, Space Park, proposed the vote of thanks.​​

ISRO Readying Low-cost Launch Vehicles

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is readying low-cost satellite launch vehicles costing about Rs. 30-35 crore each which can put into orbit satellites weighing up to 500 kg.
The first launch of such a vehicle is expected to take place in the next four months. This capability will give ISRO a big commercial edge as it will be able to cater to micro, mini and medium segments of the market, according to Haridas T V, Deputy Director, VSSC who took part in a panel discussion at EDGE 2020.
The biggest advantage is that ISRO now can manufacture these vehicles in a turnaround time of just three weeks, he said.
ISRO has earmarked $1,600 million for launch vehicles of which $870 million will be for PSLV while the remaining amount will be allocated for GSLV, he said adding that ISRO is planning 500-plus PSLV launches in the next five years. The Government-Owned Contractor-Operated (GOCO) model is picking up very well in the space and defence sectors. “We want to leverage it to the maximum in the coming days,” Haridas added.
Earlier, in his keynote address at the session titled ‘Navigating space industry – through innovation, agility and collaboration’, Dr. Rabin Giles, Director – Innovation, CNES Connect, said there is tremendous scope for cooperation between France and India in the development of space technology. “India and France can work to evolve a model for the Moon programme. Space industry is a sector where ‘patience and dream’ equally play a big part,’’ said Dr. Giles.
Dr. Daniel Baker, Director of America’s LASP (The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics) Programme, stressed the need for students from universities to take part in space research programmes. In this context he lauded the new Space Park initiative which, according to him, will be a launchpad for exploration. The seeds of success will be in replicating the success of LASP here, he said.
Collaboration, innovation and agility are the key elements of a successful space programme, said Raqib Islam, UK Space Agency. Taking collaboration forward, the UK Space Trade Mission visited India recently to explore areas of cooperation, he said.
P S R Sastry, Director – DSP, DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) also spoke on the occasion.

Training to Build Satellites at Space Park

The International Satellite Programme in Research and Education (INSPIRE) project will be implemented at the upcoming Space Park to provide universities and students training to build satellites. This was revealed at a panel session on ‘Space technology backbone for science and academics: INSPIRE project’ held as part of EDGE 2020.
Currently, sessions are being conducted at the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) in Thiruvananthapuram under INSPIRE project, which has the involvement of eight prominent universities. The aim of INSPIRE is to establish a long-term academic programme for developing a constellation of small satellites and a global network of ground stations.
Dr. Martin Kaufmann, Professor, University of Wuppertal, Germany; Mike McGrath, former Engineering Director, LASP; Rick Kohnert, Small Satellite Programme Manager, LASP; and Loren Chang, Professor, National Central University, Taiwan, were the panellists at the session.
The second edition of EDGE conclave is tentatively scheduled for January 2021, according to Santhosh Kurup, Special Officer, Space Park.

New Apex Body for Space Industry Launched

Seeking to leverage the investment potential in space sector, Space Federation of India (SFI) was launched as an apex industry body at the two-day international conclave on Space Technology, EDGE 2020.
Conceived to be the voice of country’s space industry, SFI will function as the premier non-profit trade association bringing the entire space industry under one roof.
It aims at striving to lay the foundation for a sustainable, consensus-driven and thriving space ecosystem in India.
P S R Sastri, Director – DSP, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), launched the website of SFI (www.spacefed.in) on the occasion.
The office-bearers of SFI – Chris Nair, Sreedhar Ramasubban and Pavan Kumar Chandra – were also present on the occasion.

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