Klein Lecture in Aerospace Engineering
The Indian Space Program was initiated in a small fishing hamlet near Thiruvananthapuram in the state of Kerala in the early 1960's, not much later than the beginning of the global space era. There have always been questions as to why a developing country like India should spend money on space activity. This question has persisted through the decades. But the Indian Space vision is different from the rest of the world. Our first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, stated "It is science alone that can solve the problems of hunger and poverty….. The future belongs to science and to those who make friends with science." The guiding vision of the Indian Space Program articulated by Dr. Vikram Sarabhai confirms this sentiment in letter and spirit.
In India, space-based applications focus on food and water security, weather and climate, environment and ecosystem, education and health care, skill development, rural communication, infrastructure development, disaster management support, smart governance and sustainable development. We have ensured and sustained constellations of satellites for Earth Observation, Communication and Meteorology. A satellite-based navigation system is being established. These space assets are essential in delivering the fruits of several application programs that have become the mainstay of the Indian Space Program. Also, the strategic values of space assets are being increasingly recognized.