India can become a big player in global space program: Petranek

"There is no reason why a country as big as India can't have a massive space program," said Petranek.

By: PTI | Published:November 3, 2016 10:11 pm
India space, Stephen Petranek, India Space Petranek, India space missions Sriharikota: Indian Space Research Organisation’s PSLV-C35 ready to be launch on Saturday with SCATSAT-1 and seven other satellites from Sriharikota on Monday. PTI Photo/ISRO

India, which scripted history with its successful maiden Mars orbiter mission, has the potential to be a big player in the global space program and could even see its private sector develop its own SpaceX, award-winning author Stephen Petranek says. Petranek, author of the book ‘How We’ll live on Mars’, says that humans will live on the Red Planet by the year 2027.

“There is no reason why a country as big as India can’t have a massive space program. In many ways what India
accomplished by orbiting Mars is as successful as much larger organizations like the Russian space agency, NASA and European space agencies (have achieved),” Petranek told PTI in an interview here.

The author says space programs are going to be one of the biggest businesses in the future, which will lead to
competition among nations. “I won’t be surprised to see a company in India start developing and becoming its own Space X (the aerospace behemoth founded by Elon Musk), he says.

Petranek is among the “big thinkers” for National Geographic’s ambitious project ‘MARS’, a six-part series that
will take its viewers to Mars and explain the possibility of life on the red planet using drama and documentary. The National Geographic Channel aims to re-imagine factual storytelling with its biggest production series, which will premiere on November 14 in 171 countries and 45 languages. ‘MARS’ is set both in the future and in the present day and tells the story from the vantage point of a fictitious crewed mission to the red planet in 2033.

National Geographic received exclusive access to film Musk and his team at SpaceX mission control as they successfully landed their Falcon 9 reusable rocket on a drone ship off the East Coast of the US this past April. “The future of humanity is fundamentally going to bifurcate along one of two directions: either we’re going to
become a multi-planet species and a spacefaring civilization, or we’re going to be stuck on one planet until some eventual extinction event. “In order for me to be excited and inspired about the future, it’s got to be the first option,” says Musk in the series.

Petranek says while the Indian space program currently is like a “smaller NASA”, he would not be surprised to see private industry in India become a big player in the space program and exploration given the expertise and capital in India. By getting an important satellite to Mars, India has shown that it has the technology that even the Russians have not been successful at, he says.

“Russians have not been that successful. They have launched 17 satellite to Mars, most have crashed. We are going to see countries like Japan, Australia, Brazil all developing a bigger and better space program and we are going to see a lot of that move into the private industry. “I would not be surprised to see a private space company in India grow and develop given the potential space exploration has in future.”