Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s address thurogh
Multi-Media Tele-Conference to the symposium on 'the future of space exploration:
solutions to earthly problems' boston University, USA, at RB Multimedia studio,
Thoughts result into actions”
delighted to participate in the Symposium on “The Future of Space Exploration:
Solutions to Earthly Problems” organised by (a) the Centre for Space Physics,
(b) the Pardee Centre for the Study of Longer Range Future and (c) the Secure
World Foundation of Boston University to mark the occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary
of the dawn of Space Age. My greetings to this distinguished gathering of space
scientists, technologists, academicians, futurologists, industrialists, social
scientists and students. May I address you, as a fellow scientist, who has been
part of the growth process of space science and technology in India. This field
of human endeavour has, in the last fifty years, made an unprecedented impact
on the life of human race. As the first citizen of India, I am aware of the aspirations
and pain of our people and the great expectations they have for further improving
their quality of life using technology including space. I am glad to know that
you will be discussing how space technology can enhance further, the quality of
life of world citizens while examining many innovative ideas for space exploration,
exciting aspects like space colonies, search for extra terrestrial intelligence
and planetary exploration. We have to understand our planet more completely, evolve
and adapt our life to its environment and ecology. Hence, I have chosen the topic,
"Space Exploration and Human Life".
Indian Space Visionary
As you know, fifty years ago, space initiatives started
with only two major space-faring nations. Now, there are many. I am happy to say
that India is one among them with space science and technology accelerating the
social and economic advancement of the nation. When I think of space accomplishments
of the last fifty years and the vision for the future, I recall Dr. Vikram Sarabhai,
who pioneered India’s space programme, which in the last four decades has been
touching the lives of many among the billion people of India in several ways.
The Indian Space Programme
Prof. Vikram Sarabhai unfurled the socio-economic application
oriented space mission for India in 1970. Today, India with her 14,000 scientific,
technological and support staff in multiple space research centers, supported
by about 500 industries and academic institutions, has the capability to build
any type of satellite launch vehicle to place remote sensing, communication and
meteorology satellites in different orbits and space application has become part
of our daily life. India has today a constellation of six remote sensing and ten
communication satellites serving applications like natural resource survey, communication,
disaster management support, meteorology, tele-education (10,000 class rooms)
and tele-medicine (200 hospitals). Our country is in the process of establishing
100,000 Common Service Centres (CSC’s) across the country through public-private
partnership model for providing knowledge input to rural citizens.
India has launched into orbit and recovered a space capsule after performing micro
gravity experiments. This is a major technological milestone is an important step
towards reusable launch vehicle and manned space missions. India is now working
on its second space vision. I foresee that an important contribution for future
of exploration by India would be, space missions to the Moon and Mars founded
on space industrialization.
Space Research as a Technology Generator
Space research is truly inter-disciplinary and has enabled
true innovations at the intersection of multiple areas of science and engineering.
It has been consistently aiming at the “impossible” and the “incredible”, every
time moving the frontiers of our knowledge forward. Space research has had as
its major focus, on making things work and bringing the dreams of mankind to fruition
through technologies that the mankind can be proud of. It is almost a “Green Technology”.
Its greatest asset is that in many cases what is perfected as a space technology
becomes a technology that enhances the quality of human life on the earth. Some
examples are - the revolution in communication, tele-presence, infotainment, and
an integrated picture of earth and its resources. Besides direct contributions,
the fruits of space research have also resulted in designing innovative products
such as cardiac stent and heart pacemaker for healthcare.
ExplorationWorld Population in the 21st Century &
Its Relation to Future of Space
The world population today is 6.6 billion, which is
projected to be over 9 billion by 2050. The critical issues arising from this
population growth are shortage of energy, shortage of water and increasing damage
to the natural environment and ecology.
Planetary Energy Supply & Demand: Role of Space
Civilization on earth will run out of fossil fuels in
this Century. Oil reserves are on the verge of depletion, followed by gas and
finally coal. However, Solar energy is clean and inexhaustible. For example, even
if 1 % of India’s land area were harvested of solar energy, the yield would be
nearly 1000 Gigawatts, or 10 times more than the current consumption. However
solar flux on earth is available for just 6-8 hours every day whereas incident
radiation on space solar power station would be 24 hrs every day. What better
vision can there be for the future of space exploration, than participating in
a global mission for perennial supply of renewable energy from space?
Water for future generations
More than 70% of earths’ surface is water; but only
one percent is available as fresh water for drinking purposes. By 2050 when the
world population will exceed 9 billion, over 6 billion may be living under conditions
of moderate, high and extreme water scarcity. There is a four-fold method towards
providing safe and fresh drinking water for large population. The first is to
re-distribute water supply; the second is to save and reduce demand for water;
the third is to recycle used water supplies and the fourth is to find new sources
of fresh water.
Space technologies for new sources of fresh water
In India earth observation satellites having unique
resolution are being deployed for the survey of water bodies, their continuous
activation so that water storage during rainy season is maximized. Establishing
new water supply sources using advanced reverse osmosis technologies for seawater
desalination on large scales is a cost effective method of providing a new source
of safe and fresh drinking water. However, desalination is an energy intensive
process. Hence, the use of renewable energy through space solar satellites can
bring down the cost of fresh water substantially. Space based solar power stations
have six to fifteen times greater capital utilization than equivalent sized ground
solar stations. Linking Space solar power to reverse osmosis technology for large-scale
drinking water supplies could be yet another major contribution of Space.
Integrated Atmospheric research
In the last four decades, space observations through
balloons, rocket experiments, satellites, recordings through sophisticated ground
installations, experimental techniques and instrumentation have provided valuable
integrated information on atmospheric processes. I asked myself what have we learnt
from atmosphere during the last four decades. What information enriched us? How
our atmosphere is dynamically changing in 20th century to now in the 21st century?
As you all are aware, Earth is experiencing both stratospheric cooling (due to
ozone hole) and tropospheric warming (due to increased green house gases).
While the twentieth century has witnessed CO2 content
in atmosphere going upto three parts per 10,000, in the early part of 21st century
we are already experiencing 6 to 10 parts per 10,000. This is equivalent to nearly
30 billion tones of carbon dioxide injection to the atmosphere every year. The
solution for preventing further damage to the atmosphere would be immediate adoption
of energy independence through use of clean renewable sources of energy.
In many places in our planet, we experience severe disasters
like earthquakes, tsunami, cyclone resulting in loss of life, loss of wealth and
in some cases it destroys the decades of progress made by countries and their
valuable civilisational heritage. India has earthquake problems periodically in
certain regions. US, Japan, Turkey, Iran and many other countries also suffer
due to earthquakes.
Earthquake/tsunami is a sub terrain phenomenon and predicting
this from space observations would be a great challenge. Space scientists of multiple
nations should work together to use satellite deep penetration images to predict
the earthquake or shock wave propagation. Other possibilities are precise geodynamic
measurement of strain accumulation by satellite to detect pre-slip, and electromagnetic
phenomena prior to final rupture. The focus must be on earth quake forecasting
with adequate warning so that the people can move to safer areas. Space technology
can also be used for forecasting and modeling of volcanic eruptions, land slides,
avalanche, flash floods, storm surge, hurricane and tornadoes.
Potentially Dangerous Asteroids
Space community has to keep monitoring the dynamics
of all potentially dangerous asteroids. Asteroid 1950DA's rendezvous with earth
is predicted to be on Mar 16, 2880. The impact probability calculations initially
indicated a serious condition of 1 in 300 which has to be continuously monitored.
In such a crucial condition, we should aim to deflect or destroy this asteroid
with the technology available with mankind.
Space Missions (2050)
Now, I would like to discuss with you certain specific
priority areas in space technology and exploration. Geosynchronous Equatorial
Orbit (GEO) is a well utilized resource. The spacecraft orbiting in GEO are very
high value resources. However, the lives of these spacecraft are determined by
component failure, capacity of fuel, internal energy systems and space environment.
While new design practices and technologies are constantly increasing the life
of satellite, there is a requirement for extending the life of satellite through
in-orbit maintenance such as diagnosis, replacement, recharging, powering, refueling
or de-boosting after use. This calls for creation of Space Satellite Service Stations
for all the spacecraft in the GEO as a permanent international facility. Future
satellites and payloads have also to be designed with self-healing capability
and midlife maintenance.
Space Industrial revolution
Mankind’s 21st. Century thrust into space would herald
in the world’s next industrial revolution, what might be termed as the Space Industrial
Revolution. This does not mean that the revolution will take place only in Space.
What it essentially means is the creation of architectural and revolutionary changes
leading to new space markets, systems and technologies on a planetary scale. Such
a Space Industrial Revolution will be triggered by the following missions that
can address all segments of global space community. What are the possible drivers
for such a Space Industrial Revolution?
The first major factor will be man’s quest for perennial
sources of clean energy such as solar and other renewable energies and thermonuclear
fusion. Helium 3 from Moon is seen as a valuable fuel for thermonuclear reactors.
Mining in planets
or asteroids would need innovative methods for exploring, processing and transporting
large quantities of rare materials to earth. Moon could become a potential transportation
hub for interplanetary travel. The moon’s sky is clear to waves of all frequencies.
With interplanetary communication systems located on the far side, the moon would
also shield these communication stations from the continuous radio emissions from
the earth. Hence the moon has potential to become a “Telecommunications Hub” for
interplanetary communications also.
The Moon also has other advantages as a source of construction
materials for near Earth orbit. Its weak surface gravity is only one-sixth as
strong as Earth's. As a result, in combination with its small diameter, it takes
less than five percent as much energy to boost materials from the lunar surface
into orbit compared with the launch energy needed from Earth's surface into orbit.
Electromagnetic mass drivers powered by solar energy could provide low-cost transportation
of lunar materials to space construction sites.
Low gravity manufacturing
holds tremendous promise for mankind in new materials and medicines. Studies also
have shown that the needs of 12 workers could be met by a 16-meter diameter inflatable
habitat. This would contain facilities for exercise, operations control, clean
up, lab work, hydroponics gardening, a wardroom, private crew quarters, dust-removing
devices for lunar surface work, an airlock, and lunar rover and lander vehicles.
Habitat at MARS: As my friend Prof UR Rao, former Chairman
of ISRO says, space scientists are habituated to protecting systems against single
point failures; so, in the longer term, creation of extra terrestrial habitat
in MARS should be studied as fail safe mechanism for our problems on earth. How
would we create livable conditions on Mars?
Moon-Based Solar Power Stations
Space solar power stations have been studied extensively
during the past 30 to 40 years. However, non-availability of low cost, fully reusable
space transportation has denied mankind the benefit of space solar power stations
in geo-stationary and other orbits.
Moon is the ideal environment for large-area solar converters.
The solar flux to the lunar surface is predicable and dependable. There is no
air or water to degrade large-area thin film devices. The Moon is extremely quiet
mechanically. It is devoid of weather, significant seismic activity, and biological
processes that degrade terrestrial equipment. Solar collectors can be made that
are unaffected by decades of exposure to solar cosmic rays and the solar wind.
Sensitive circuitry and wiring can be buried under a few- to tens- of centimeters
of lunar soil and completely protected against solar radiation, temperature extremes,
and micrometeorites. Studies have also shown that it is technically and economically
feasible to provide about 100,000 GWe of solar electric energy from facilities
on the Moon.
If we have to achieve these along with the full potential
of space benefits with current applications, there is one major problem we have
to solve. That is, how are we going to make the cost of access to space affordable?.
The question hinges on creating space markets and developing cutting edge technologies
to make low cost of access to space a reality. The future of the space industrial
revolution created by a space exploration initiative would hinge greatly on new
means of safe, affordable access to near earth space, as the platform for deep
Cost of access to Space
It is becoming clear that present level of markets for
communication, are getting saturated. Optical fiber technologies are providing
large bandwidth for terrestrial communications. The life of satellites in orbit
having increased to 12-15 years, along with advanced technology with higher bandwidth
for transponders have further reduced the demand for telecommunication satellites.
The current cost of access to space for information missions such as telecommunication,
remote sensing and navigation varies from US $ 10000 to US $ 20000 per kg in low
earth orbit. As mentioned, this market is saturated. Hence the future of space
exploration requires that space industry moves out of the present era of information
collection missions, into an era of mass missions. There is a need to reduce the
cost of access by two to three orders of magnitude. It is only by such reduction
in cost of access to space that mankind can hope to harvest the benefits of space
exploration by 2050.
Affordable, Low Cost Space Transportation for Space
The payload fraction of current generation expendable
launch vehicles in the world does not exceed 1 or 2% of the launch weight. Thus
to put one or two tonnes in space requires more than one hundred tonnes of launch
mass most of which-nearly 70% - is oxygen.
Such gigantic rocket based
space transportation systems, with marginal payload fractions, are wholly uneconomical
for carrying out mass missions and to carry freight and men to and from the moon.
Studies in India have shown that the greatest economy
through the highest payload fractions are obtained when fully reusable space transportation
systems are designed which carry no oxidizer at launch, but gather liquid oxygen
while the spacecraft ascends directly from earth to orbit in a single stage. These
studies in India suggest that a “aerobic” space transportation vehicle can indeed
have a 15% payload fraction for a launch weight of 270 tonnes. This type of space
plane has the potential to increase the payload fraction to 30% for higher take
off weight. For such heavy lift space planes, with 10 times the payload fraction
and 100 times reuse, the cost of payload in orbit can be reduced dramatically
by several orders of magnitude lower than the cost of access to space with expandable
While space industrialization and space exploration
will expand initially using the current generation launch vehicles, the real value
of space exploration for human advancement will occur only when mankind builds
fully reusable space transportation systems with very high payload efficiencies.
This will become available when the technology of oxygen liquefaction in high-speed
flight in earth’s atmosphere is mastered. This technology will also be useful
for mass collection from the atmosphere of other planets at a later stage in space
Maintaining Peace in Space
We must recognize the necessity for the world’s Space
community to avoid terrestrial geo-political conflict to be drawn into outer space,
thus threatening the space assets belonging to all mankind. This leads on to the
need for an International Space Force made up of all nations wishing to participate
and contribute to protect world space assets in a manner which will enable peaceful
exploitation of space on a global cooperative basis.
Challenges before the Space Research Community
Space research has many challenges that can stimulate
intellectually alert and young minds. But the attraction for the youth of today
to take up science or technology as a career option has many lucrative diversions.
The future of space research cannot be as green as it was in the last fifty years,
if we the space scientists do not ensure a steady stream of youngsters embracing
the discipline. For this to happen, the scientists of today must come up with
a steady fountain of ideas that would attract the students. This is a great challenge.
I would be happy if the great minds gathered here, articulate to the young, the
space vision for the next fifty years and challenges presented and discussed in
the Symposium. Space does not have geographic borders and why should those who
pursue space research have any borders?
Space Missions 2050
I would like to suggest the following space missions
for the consideration by the space community assembled here to be fully accomplished
before the year 2050.
1.Evolving a Global Strategic Plan for space industrialization
so as to create large scale markets and advanced space systems and technologies,
for clean energy, drinking water, tele-education, tele-medicine, communications,
resource management and science; and for
undertaking planetary exploration mission.
a Global Partnership Mission in advanced space transportation, charged with the
goal of reducing the cost of access to space by two orders of magnitude to US
$ 200 per kg. using identified core competencies, responsibilities and equitable
funding by partners, encouraging innovation and new concepts through two parallel
3. Developing and deploying in-orbit Space Satellite
Service Stations for enhancing the life of spacecraft in GEO as a permanent international
Since the dawn of space era in 1957, space science and
technology has enhanced man’s knowledge of earth, atmosphere and outer space.
It has improved the quality of life of human race. Our space vision to the next
fifty years has to consolidate these benefits and expand them further to address
crucial issues faced by humanity in energy, environment, water and minerals. Above
all, we have to keep upper most in our mind the need for an alternate habitat
for the human race in our solar system. The crucial mission for the global space
community is to realize a dramatic reduction in the cost of access to space.
To meet this challenge the scientific community can draw the inspiration
from the saying of Maharishi Patanjali, about 2,500 years ago "When you are
inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts
break their bounds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands
in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world.
Dormant forces, faculties and talents come alive, and you discover yourself to
be a greater person by far than you ever dreamt yourself to be."
I wish you all success for this Symposium on “The Future
of Space Exploration: Solutions to Earthly Problems”
May God bless you.
(Release ID :26889)