IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


28th June, 2024 Science and Technology


Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.

Context: NSIL, a Government of India company under the Department of Space and the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is set to launch Space Machines Company’s second Optimus spacecraft, the largest Australian-designed and built spacecraft to date.


  • Companies Involved: Space Machines Company (Australian-Indian in-space servicing firm) and NewSpace India Limited (NSIL, a commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO))
  • Agreement: Launch Service Agreement for the Optimus spacecraft
    • Announcement: Made at the India Space Congress 2024 in Delhi by Rajat Kulshrestha, CEO and Co-Founder of Space Machines Company

Mission Overview

  • Mission Name: Space MAITRI (Mission for Australia-India’s Technology, Research, and Innovation)
  • Launch Date: Scheduled for 2026
  • Launch Vehicle: NSIL’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV)
  • Spacecraft Details: Optimus spacecraft, 450kg, the largest Australian-designed and built spacecraft

Significance of the Mission

  • Strategic Partnership: Highlights growing strategic partnership between Australia and India
  • Focus Areas: Debris management and sustainability in space operations
  • Objectives: Foster closer ties among commercial, institutional, and governmental space organizations from both countries

Government Support and Funding

  • Australian Government Grant: AUS$8.5 million through the Australian Space Agency’s International Space Investment India Projects (ISI India Projects) program
  • Support Rationale: Underscores the importance of the mission and commitment to advancing space capabilities

Collaborative Efforts

  • Australian Partners: The University of Adelaide, The University of Sydney, The University of Technology Sydney, LeoLabs, Advanced Navigation, and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI)
  • Indian Partners: Ananth Technologies, Digantara

Commitment to Sustainable Space Operations

  • Primary Focus: Mitigate space debris and raise global awareness
  • Goals: Develop solutions to ensure long-term sustainability of space activities
  • Significance: Address the threat posed by the increasing cloud of space debris to future space endeavours and astronaut safety

India Australia Science colaboration

  • Australia-India science collaboration has been ongoing since the 1950s. The arrangement supporting civil space collaboration is among Australia’s oldest.
  • Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) which underpins bilateral science and innovation relationship. Since its establishment in 2006, more than A$100 million has been invested through the Fund and over 350 activities supported.
  • Cooperation in outer space will complement the Australia-India Cyber and Critical Technology Partnership which supports our organisations to collaborate on the global development of ethical standards around critical and emerging technologies.
  • And all of these grant programs will be enhanced by the new Maitri Scholars Program and Maitri Research Grants, which support Indian STEM students and industry collaboration to expand our scientific partnership.

Indias Space Diplomacy

  • International cooperation is a strategic area for a space programme because relationships with other countries are influenced by political, economic, cultural, and human personality factors as well as scientific and technological factors.
  • International cooperation has been part of Indian space programme since inception. Establishment of Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS), conduct of Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) and Satellite Telecommunication Experiment Project (STEP), launches of Aryabhata, Bhaskara, Ariane Passenger Payload Experiment (APPLE), IRS-IA, IRS-IB satellites, INSAT series of satellites, Mission to Moon, etc.
  • Internationally India is viewed by space faring nations as an emerging space power, capable of achieving its goals in a more cost effective and time-efficient manner. Specifically, the developing countries look to India for assistance in building up their capabilities to derive benefits of space technology.
  • Internationally, ISRO plays active role in sharing its expertise and satellite data for the management of natural disasters through various multi-agency bodies like International Charter for Space and Major Disasters, Sentinel Asia and UNSPIDER.

Ongoing and future activities

  • ISRO and NASA are realizing a joint satellite mission called NISAR (NASA ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar) for earth science studies.
  • As part of the Indo-French cooperation, ISRO and CNES have completed the feasibility study on realizing an earth observation satellite mission with thermal infrared imager, named as TRISHNA.
  • ISRO and JAXA scientists are conducting the feasibility study to realize a joint satellite mission to explore the moon’s polar region.


Space is not confined to national boundaries.  Indias is having international, presence cooperation, coordination.

NewSpace India Limited

NSIL is the commercial arm of the Department of Space (DoS) under the Government of India, headquartered in Banglore was established in 2019.

NSIL was created to advance high-technology space activities within the country.

NSIL operates satellite missions based on a "demand-driven" model.

They handle the construction, launch, ownership, and operation of satellites, providing services directly to customers.




Q. Give an account of India’s space diplomacy. 150 words