India’s Space Diplomacy

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 13th, 2023

Space has always been an unmapped territory in the international order. Starting from Vostok1, many successful space programs were carried out by major countries of the world. Space program is not limited only to strategic purpose. But now, it is a mean to gain various economic and technological benefits. This the reason, why every major country of the world is engaged in this race. Space has emerged as a new platform to cooperation and competition for major power of the world to compete and establish supremacy. So we can say that Space Diplomacy is the capability of using space to maintain international relation and furthering national interest.

India’s Space Diplomacy: Importance; International Bodies on Space; India and Space; Challenges


  • One of the major advantages of space diplomacy is- Increment in the negotiation power of the country. For example, Russia launched India’s first satellite and used its port in return.
  • In the current world order, a large section of scientist and global policymakers think that space can act as a major driver to address global challenges by improving relation on earth by exploring space.
  • Space diplomacy is an art of negotiation to coexist peacefully in outer space for the future of humankind.
  • Exploration of space is much limited. So, space diplomacy can work as a mean to cooperation among nations, to explore resources from space for the need of the increasing population of the world.

Important international bodies for space diplomacy

  • United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) is an agency for the development of International Space Law, which concluded five international treaties.
  • The “Moon Agreement”– regulate the activities of states on the moon.
  • The “Liability Convention”– for international liability for damages caused by a space object.
  • The “Outer Space Treaty”– for the regulation of activities of states in outer space.
  • The “Rescue Agreement”– for return and rescue of astronauts and the return of objects launched in outer space.
  • The “Registration Convention”– for registration of objects launched into outer space.
  • Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) serves as the secretariat for COPUOS and also responsible for implementing the Secretary-General’s responsibilities under international space law and maintain the United Nations register of objects launched into outer space.
  • Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization(APSCO) is an intergovernmental organization. It has full international legal status.
    • its headquarter situated in Beijing, China.
    • Space agencies of Bangladesh, China, Iran, Mongolia, Pakistan, Turkey, Peru and Thailand are a member of this organization.
    • Mexico is an observer state and Indonesia is a signatory.
    • A major objective of this organization is sharing data, tracking space objects and establishing a space communication network.

India and Space-

  • It was 21 November 1963, when the Indian space program was announced by launching the first rocket from Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) located at thumba near Thiruvananthapuram.
  • The geomagnetic equator of the earth passes over Thumba.
  • First rocket named, Nike-Apache was procured from the US.
  • Starting from1963 to till now, India set remarkable milestones in the space program. Not only for itself, the Indian space program also started working for its neighbouring and other countries of the world.
  • PSLV and GSLV launch vehicles are a key player in the Indian space program.
  • India launched its satellite Aryabhata in 1975. From then India launces plenty of successful mission to space including Chandrayana 1 and 2 and a mission to Mars.

India and Space Diplomacy:

India is continuously strengthening its foreign and neighbourhood policy by using its space diplomacy, some of its key points is given here-

  • ISRO and NASA are working jointly on the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission. The objective of the mission is to co-develop and launch a dual frequency aperture radar satellite by 2021.
  • Considering the geopolitics in the region India has been continuously making efforts for the collective developments of its neighbour by strategic research and military innovation. South Asia Satellite or GSAT-9 is a remarkable step in the same direction.
  • Satellite provides communication, banking, e-governance and telemedicine to the south Asian nation.
  • India’s decision to not joining the international space station or APSCO is an indication of its technological independence capacity to work effectively in this field.
  • India has also agreed for use of its regional positioning system NAVIC by SAARC countries.
  • ISRO Telemarketing, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) operates international stations in Mauritius, Indonesia and Brunei.
  • India-Myanmar Centre for remote sensing was established by ISRO in 2001.
  • Indian satellite data is frequently shared with its friendly countries for astronomical research.
  • By sharing its space program India is enhancing its soft power. ISRO provides a cheaper alternative to developing countries comparing to European and American counterparts.
  • Control station in neighbouring countries will also help India to counter growing Chinese influence in the region.

Challenges to Space Diplomacy

  • One of the major challenges to space diplomacy is a growing number of states in space. It can increase rivalry of states for resources in space, as well as on earth.
  • Weaponisation of outer space is also a major challenge. Majorly nuclear missiles are able to damage satellite without hitting them. For example, in1962, US nuclear test harmed the one British, One Soviet and Four US satellites including Telstar, a famous satellite that allowed the first transmission of television image across the Atlantic.
  • Especially for smaller and developing countries, it is difficult to be completely sovereign in space. That is why they are dependent on another country with an adequate launch system.
  • It is also a concern that developing countries, which are heavily investing in the space program, can ignore the basic need of its citizen.
  • The anti-satellite test is also a threat to space program. It can destroy satellite and can be used as a weapon to destroy the space-related programs of opponent countries.
  • The growing number of space participants are also increasing the debris in the space that can create a problem for new satellites.
  • There are very few treaties in case of space. Fewer treaties mean less legal binding towards the space-related program. That can create a chaotic condition in outer space.

So in present time Space Diplomacy is an important part of the foreign policy of each and every developing or developed country. Some social and political scientist continuously arguing that weaponisation of outer space must be avoided. A better dealing of overall space program can work in the favour of mankind. The present technological and strategical requirement can only fulfil by concrete and jointly space program. India is also looking for a hopeful future for its space program that can work as a prosperous mean to its space diplomacy.

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