Metropolitan Digital

The Conversation

  • Written by Wendy Whitman Cobb, Professor of Strategy and Security Studies, US Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies

On Sept. 7, India’s Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission deployed its Vikram lander for an attempted landing at the Moon’s south pole. Communications with the lander were lost[1] just minutes prior to the scheduled landing. Recent imaging suggests that Vikram may have survived the landing intact, but it might be unable to communicate. No matter the outcome, the mission has already proved successful as Chandrayaan-2 continues to orbit the Moon.

Chandrayaan-2 adds to the list of India’s recent accomplishments in space. This probe was sent on a scientific mission, but India’s achievements in space include other military developments[2], all of which reflect a challenge to China. Though some are warning of a space race between the U.S. and China[3], I suggest the real space race is happening in Asia.

This year alone, both China and India have landed, or attempted to land, probes on the Moon. These types of missions are one way to achieve international prestige. But they also peacefully demonstrate capabilities that could be used in conflict. From my perspective as a space policy analyst[4], India’s space activities, combined with its escalating tensions with Pakistan[5], contribute to increasing regional tension.

Indian Moon probe's failure won't stop an Asian space race that threatens regional security Employees of India’s space agency react with disappointment as they learn that engineers lost touch with its Vikram lunar lander. AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi[6]

Indian space achievements and capabilities

Most international observers have focused, with good reason, on India’s nuclear ambitions. Like its nuclear program, India’s space program traces its origins to the 1950s[7], though the Indian Space Research Organization was not formed until 1969. Early on, the Indian Space Research Organization focused on design and fabrication of satellites. Later, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it concentrated on the development of its own rockets. Since then, India has developed several reliable and powerful rockets[8] including its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle.

India has used its expertise to foster a growing commercial space sector. It sells extra space on its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle[9] to commercial companies, which has generated significant income for the Indian Space Research Organization. India recently approved the creation[10] of a private institution, NewSpace India Limited[11], to facilitate technology transfers and market space-centric industries.

India’s first Moon mission, the orbiter Chandrayaan-1[12], launched in 2008, contributed to the discovery of water on the Moon[13]. In 2014, the Mars Orbiter Mission[14] made India the fourth entity to send a mission to the Red Planet after the U.S., Russia and the European Space Agency. The ultimate goal of the current Chandrayann-2 mission was to deploy a lander and rover on the Moon’s south pole to further explore potential water deposits. India also strives to launch its own astronauts[15] into space by 2022.

These efforts have been primarily civilian and peaceful in nature. India’s turn toward the military uses of space[16] began only in the 1990s. With greater frequency India is developing its own military satellites providing services such as remote sensing, tracking and communications. India’s missiles are benefitted[17] by technology developed at ISRO and their increasing capabilities reflects their concerns with not just Pakistan, but China.

Since the establishment of the Chinese communist state, conflict between the two states has come on several fronts[18]. There have been several clashes over disputed territorial boundaries and, as rising economic powers governed by different ideologies, India and China continue to battle for regional and international preeminence.

China’s own accomplishments have served as motivation for Indian developments. For instance, China’s nuclear tests in 1964 encouraged[19] the Indian nuclear program, which conducted its own nuclear tests in 1974. In space, China has expanded its scientific, civilian and military activities with an active human spaceflight program and its own program of lunar missions. In January of 2019, Chang'e-4 successfully landed on the far side of the Moon and just recently discovered[20] an unknown “gel-like” substance.

Asian power balance

India continues to feel pressure from its Chinese neighbor. Following China’s anti-satellite test in 2008[21], India began development of its own space weapons. In March 2019, India successfully tested an anti-satellite weapon[22]: a missile, launched from the ground, that destroyed one of its own satellites in low Earth orbit. Like previous anti-satellite tests performed by the U.S., Russia and China, there were immediate concerns about debris[23]. Despite this, India clearly intended to send a message to China[24] and others, signaling their ability to not only protect their own satellites but destroy threatening Chinese ones as well.

These more aggressive moves fit in with other recent Indian actions. In August, India withdrew the special status of Kashmir[25] that largely allowed the region to set its own laws. India then deployed troops to the region[26], arrested several hundred Kashmiri politicians and moved to sever communication links between Kashmir and the rest of the region.

These actions, along with India’s space activities, do not go unnoticed by Pakistan. As analysts Mian Zahid Hussain and Raja Qaiser Ahmed write[27], “Pakistan feels more insecure under India’s low earth orbit satellites and dominant surveillance and espionage capabilities.” This insecurity, combined with India’s behavior toward Kashmir, could prompt Pakistan to develop anti-satellite weapons and other space technologies. If this starts an arms race, it would introduce more instability in an already delicate region.

In a speech following the loss of communication with the Vikram lander, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said[28], “We are proud of our space program and scientists, their hard work and determination. (They) ensure a better life, not only for our citizens, but also for other nations.” Like other space powers, India is seeking to improve its technology and way of life, but advances can also bring greater security concerns.

References

  1. ^ Communications with the lander were lost (www.cnn.com)
  2. ^ other military developments (carnegieendowment.org)
  3. ^ space race between the U.S. and China (www.space.com)
  4. ^ my perspective as a space policy analyst (scholar.google.com)
  5. ^ escalating tensions with Pakistan (www.npr.org)
  6. ^ AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi (www.apimages.com)
  7. ^ traces its origins to the 1950s (doi.org)
  8. ^ reliable and powerful rockets (doi.org)
  9. ^ It sells extra space on its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (spacenews.com)
  10. ^ India recently approved the creation (thediplomat.com)
  11. ^ NewSpace India Limited (www.newspaceindia.com)
  12. ^ Chandrayaan-1 (www.isro.gov.in)
  13. ^ contributed to the discovery of water on the Moon (www.space.com)
  14. ^ Mars Orbiter Mission (www.isro.gov.in)
  15. ^ launch its own astronauts (www.space.com)
  16. ^ military uses of space (doi.org)
  17. ^ India’s missiles are benefitted (doi.org)
  18. ^ conflict between the two states has come on several fronts (digitalcommons.ithaca.edu)
  19. ^ China’s nuclear tests in 1964 encouraged (digitalcommons.ithaca.edu)
  20. ^ just recently discovered (www.nbcnews.com)
  21. ^ China’s anti-satellite test in 2008 (www.cfr.org)
  22. ^ India successfully tested an anti-satellite weapon (carnegieendowment.org)
  23. ^ immediate concerns about debris (www.space.com)
  24. ^ to send a message to China (carnegieendowment.org)
  25. ^ India withdrew the special status of Kashmir (www.npr.org)
  26. ^ deployed troops to the region (theconversation.com)
  27. ^ Mian Zahid Hussain and Raja Qaiser Ahmed write (doi.org)
  28. ^ Narendra Modi said (www.space.com)

Authors: Wendy Whitman Cobb, Professor of Strategy and Security Studies, US Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies

Read more http://theconversation.com/indian-moon-probes-failure-wont-stop-an-asian-space-race-that-threatens-regional-security-123144

Metropolitan republishes selected articles from The Conversation USA with permission

Visit The Conversation to see more

Entertainment News

Phish’s 2018 Fall Tour to Conclude with Four Performances at MGM Grand Garden Arena

LAS VEGAS (May 15, 2018) – Phish, the American rock band known worldwide for its dedicated fan base, recently announced a 14-date Fall tour which will conclude in Las Vegas with four performances at...

Blane Ferguson - avatar Blane Ferguson

Dave Damiani and The No Vacancy Orchestra are “Bending The Standard”

Tina Sinatra, Dave Damiani & Landau Murphy Jr. celebrate 100 years of Frank Sinatra in Los Angeles There have been stories about independent filmmakers, but how about the independent big band...

Tom Estey - avatar Tom Estey

Billboard Chart-Topping Saxophonist VANDELL ANDREW Returns With New Single

From the vantage point of 30, his age and the name of his infectious, sensually grooving new full length album, Vandell continues to be fueled by the impressive roar of accolades and achievements th...

Metropolitan Digital - avatar Metropolitan Digital

Metropolitan Business News

Office Cleaner Takes Ownership of the Neglected Dishwasher

In an office that a dishwasher is being used communally, it is pretty difficult to set rules on how a certain appliance needs to be taken cared of. A dishwasher is a responsibility of no one until you...

News Company - avatar News Company

Amazing tips to become a successful trader

Everyone is working very hard to secure their financial freedom. Most of the people find it hard to support their family even after having a 9-5 day job. For this very reason, people often look for ...

News Company - avatar News Company

Best Practice For Young Professionals Working Through HR Internships

The industry of human relations is vitally important to the health and prosperity of a business.   Whether they are operating in textile manufacturing, accounting, sports, IT development or hospit...

News Company - avatar News Company

4 Easy Steps To Gaining SEO Momentum For Your Business

SEO (search engine optimisation) does not have to be a tiresome and overbearing exercise that diverts attention away from the core functions of a business.   SEO Shark affirms this as a smart and ...

News Company - avatar News Company

How to Manage An SEO Project On Limited Funds

SEO operators don’t need thousands upon thousands of dollars to become successful.   What SEO practitioners needs more than ever is the skills and diligence to identify problems that are acting a...

News Company - avatar News Company

An Introduction To Coworking For Australian Business Owners

Advancing technology is bringing with it great advantages in communications and networking, and to survive in business you need to keep up. With the rate at which everything changes these days, that...

News Company - avatar News Company

Holidays

New Baggage Regulations to Help Aussie Parents Travel with Infants

Travelling around the globe has never been easy, especially when infants tag along for the trip. One of the main issues that parents often have to deal with is the need to bring extra item...

News Company - avatar News Company

Maya Beach Opens to Tourists

Despite recent reports that Southern Thailand's famous Maya Beach will close for three months this year, in fact no decision to this effect has been made by Thai authorities. Phi Phi Nati...

Maevadi Rosenfeldt - avatar Maevadi Rosenfeldt

SKYN LAUNCHES GUIDE TO THE BEST PLACES TO GET INTIMATE

SKYN®, Australia’s best-selling condom*, today launches its very first SKYN® Places of Intimacy Guide.   Curated in partnership with GQ Magazine and Conde Nast, the Guide features 30 lux...

SKYN - avatar SKYN