President APJ Abdul Kalam has suggested that an industrial complex on the moon and human habitation on Mars could become a reality within 50-75 years.
Kalam said this while addressing scientists after dedicating the Insat-4B communication satellite to the nation on Friday from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) facility at Hassan, about 200 km from Bangalore.
He said space missions beyond earth were vital for sustaining the spirit of deep exploration. "Such missions enable us to bring minerals and other special materials from the moon, asteroids and mars. They will also help build infrastructure for solar power generation, industrial complexes on moon and initiating human habitat on mars."
This, the president added, could turn out to be true in 50-75 years. "Though these missions require large mass flow into space, they greatly enhance the space market by expanded utilisation of the core competencies built in many launch vehicles, spacecraft and ground systems."
As space exploration missions were capital intensive, the president said space faring nations should share the expertise of their scientists and technologists so that cost-effective space systems and technologies could be optimally utilised.
"Mankind has acquired capabilities to design, develop and deploy any type of launch vehicle, spacecraft, instrumentation and launch complex for societal and exploration missions. This has given rise to creation and expansion of space markets, bilateral and international space cooperation, evolution of space policies with multilateral negotiations," he said.
Kalam, who was associated with Indian space programmes and missions for over two decades, averred outer space missions and inter-planetary explorations were inevitable as the geo-synchronous orbit was almost choked with 240 satellites of many countries.
"There are currently 800 active satellites in various orbits. The satellite population includes a number of military spacecraft for communication and reconnaissance. The value and indispensability of these space assets are so high, safeguarding them from disruptions was paramount to ensure continuity of services," Kalam asserted.
Even as space industrialisation and space exploration will expand initially using the current generation launch vehicles, the real value of such missions for human advancement will occur when mankind builds fully reusable space transportation systems with high payload efficiencies, said Kalam.
"Advancements in rocket systems will bring down the launch cost per kg to a mere $200 from a whopping $20,000 currently when all space faring nations work together to develop reusable launch vehicles," he said.
To extend the life span of satellites and avoid further crowding of the geo-synchronous equatorial orbit, Kalam advocated the setting up of space satellite service stations (SSSS) as a permanent international facility.
"Future satellite and payloads have to be redesigned with self-healing capability and midlife maintenance. While new design practices and technologies are increasing the life of satellites, there is requirement for extending their life through in-orbit maintenance such as diagnosis, replacement, recharging, powering, refuelling or destruction after use."
Commemorating the silver jubilee of the Master Control Facility at ISRO, the president exhorted its scientists to contribute to the design, development and operation of the SSSS based on their experience in maintaining one of the largest constellation of geo-stationary satellites.
Kalam also called upon the world space community to evolve a space vision to enable mankind meet the challenges of the 21st century with space explorations and current applications, missions, comprehensive space security and large-scale societal missions and low-cost access to space.
"The world space vision will enhance the quality of human life, inspire the spirit of space exploration, expand the horizon of knowledge and ensure space security for all nations the world over. Setting up of a world space council to oversee and implement exploration, space security and special missions is the need of the hour," Kalam noted.