Think Learn & Perform (TLP)

The Only Dedicated Platform for UPSC Mains Answer Writing

Day 54 – Q 5. Space is the next big frontier of technological revolution. Do you agree? What are those current trends that indicate towards a highly sophisticated and advanced future of space technology? Explain.

5. Space is the next big frontier of technological revolution. Do you agree? What are those current trends that indicate towards a highly sophisticated and advanced future of space technology? Explain.  

अंतरिक्ष तकनीकी क्रांति का अगला बड़ा मोर्चा है। क्या आप सहमत हैं? वे वर्तमान रुझान क्या हैं जो अंतरिक्ष प्रौद्योगिकी के अत्यधिक परिष्कृत और उन्नत भविष्य की ओर संकेत करते हैं? समझाएं।


Space technology has been one of the defining forces of the 20th and 21st century. The Soviet launch of Sputnik in October 1957 and the ensuing space race to the moon came to symbolize countries demonstration of their prowess and global influence. These bright moments, including the Apollo moon landing, were evidence of space technologies lighting a clear path to the future and in recent times, it is on the cusp of a great technological revolution.


  • Since the days of its heroic endeavours, space engineering has matured into a series of interconnected technologies that deliver exciting new space science missions which in the present times are rendering great technological advancement in space as well as use on earth.
  • By democratizing access to space-based resources, we can create a more humane and just world. But realizing these benefits requires overcoming complex technical, legal, political and regulatory challenges. 
  • Present times is seeing a wave of start-ups driving dramatic and ongoing reductions in launch costs with innovations such as reusable boosters. The second is the development of nano sats that are dramatically smaller, lighter and less expensive to build and launch than those typically used by governments or industry.
  • Space is stepping up to the connectivity challenge posed by the fourth industrial revolution. One of the driving forces of this change has been the introduction of next-generation high-throughput satellite (HTS) systems. HTS will enhance the end user experience much like the terrestrial move from dial-up to broadband access.
  • Space is quickly becoming a place where the industries that power our global economy will conduct business. Like any major change, this sharing economy in space faces major legal, regulatory and technical hurdles.
  • Further, this change is being led by private enterprises unlike earlier governmental efforts, which makes it conducive to exponential growth in light of unlimited resources that the space economy provides.
  • Space industry leading the technological revolution is evident from earlier precedent when technologies developed for Apollo and other missions had a spill over effect on various industries in the world. In present times, reusable rockets help in revolutionising transportation on earth is one such example
  • At the same time, there will also be need for mechanisms to track and control satellites to prevent their being used for criminal or terrorist purposes, as well as finding ways to safely destroy failed satellites so they don’t cause damage to other satellites or space vehicles.

Following can be considered as some of the current trends that indicate a highly sophisticated and advanced future of space technology:

  • The global mining industry has tumbled in recent years from a market value of more than $1.6 trillion in 2010, to $714 billion in 2016, but this may change quickly once the “global” definition of mining is transformed by the emerging space resource industry. Space resources can be extracted from celestial bodies, most notably asteroids and the Moon.
  • Miniaturisation of technology has enabled a range of spacecraft sizes, such as the 100kg small satellites used for the Disaster Monitoring Constellation, which consists of a coordinated group of individual satellites. There are even compact 30x10x10cm CubeSats, satellites weighing a few kilograms, which can carry a range of different payloads. 
  • The ability to fabricate large, lightweight structures directly in orbit could have a huge impact on space technology, getting around the risky hurdle of launching delicate structures from the ground. 
  • Spirit and Opportunity were the two successful Mars rovers that helped humans with many discoveries on Mars and were advanced enough to be controlled from the Earth. Both of these rovers exceeded their 90-day expected lifetime by several years making them one of NASA’s most successful inventions. Present missions are building upon these like Mars 2020 mission.
  • Military and intelligence personnel have relied on satellite data for years to keep tabs on other nations and goings-on around the globe, but it was largely classified or otherwise restricted from the private sector. Now, looser regulations and lower costs are allowing companies to use that same kind of information for a variety of business reasons, such as near-real-time geospatial data visualizations of housing construction and other activity when planning new store locations.
  • Space habitats will be launched from Earth initially, but as the resource supply chain expands and metals from asteroids and the Moon become available, this sector will also come to rely on resources sourced from space. 
  • In today’s media-rich environment the concept of artificial intelligence is hard to miss, but its role in our space-based systems is easy to overlook. In fact, for some applications, it is already embedded. This will further help in the development of AI.


In the last few years, it has become clear that there is enormous potential to not only help bridge the technological shortcomings but to also create the means for new space based technological dividends. As with other cases in the new technological Revolution, these benefits coincide with the latest innovations in software, data processing and other booming sectors and it will be from the combinations of those pieces that the really innovative solutions will emerge to further advance human civilization into space.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email