Indians are thriving in Space-Tech sector internationally as well as domestically. Recently, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has named Bhavya Lal as acting chief of staff for the agency. As the senior White House appointee at NASA, Lal has served as a member of the Biden Presidential Transition Agency Review Team for the agency and oversaw the agency’s transition under the Joe Biden-led administration.

NASA said that Lal brings “extensive experience” in engineering and space technology, serving as a member of the research staff at the Institute for Defence Analyses Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) from 2005 to 2020. At STPI, she led the analysis of space technology, strategy, and policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and National Space Council, as well as federal space-oriented organisations, including NASA, the Department of Defence, and the intelligence community.

She has co-founded and is co-chair of the policy track of the American Nuclear Society’s annual conference on Nuclear and Emerging Technologies in Space (NETS) and co-organises a seminar series on space history and policy with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. For her many contributions to the space sector, she was nominated and selected to be a Corresponding Member of the International Academy of Astronautics.

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Even domestically, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is set to launch a rocket that will solely carry private satellites, including three satellites made by Indian startups, from Sriharikota on February 28. The PSLV-C51, whose primary payload will be Brazil-developed Amazonia-1 satellite, will be launched from the first launchpad.

ISRO chairman K Sivan has called the upcoming PSLV launch, dedicated to private satellites, “as part of space reforms”, which are aimed at increasing participation of private companies in the space sector. The other three privately built domestic satellites are ‘ANAND’ from startup Pixel India, ‘SATISH SAT’ from Space Kids India and ‘UNIT-SAT’ by a consortium of universities.

Recently, the ISRO Chairman K Sivan spoke at the 55th annual convocation ceremony of Bangalore University, where he said, “I can say with great confidence that India’s (space) programme is built on spectacular failures. Each failure has resulted in improvements in our system”. He also encouraged students to aim for the stars and that scientific breakthroughs come from crazy ideas. Using Elon Musks’ example, he said, “How did Elon Musk become famous? Because of his crazy ideas. Please don’t bother about failures, think crazy”.

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