Space going back to Kerala?

While listening to Mission ISRO, I realized how the focus of space activities changed from Thumba to Bengaluru in the 1970s when Prof. Satish Dhawan became ISRO Chairman after the death of Vikram Sarabhai, the father of the Indian space program.

In today’s episode, it was discussed how people in Kerala opposed the move to build Aryabhata, India’s first satellite to Bengaluru. Surendra Pal in his reconstruction says that people blockaded the movement of equipment from Thumba. It seems scientists carried some tools and books as personal luggage from Thumba to Bengaluru.

In Thiruvananthapuram, a space park was started in 2019. Many space companies have moved there. When listening to this episode today, I wondered if this is a return back to the 1960s.

While I do not want to indulge in counterfactual of what would have happened if the space program had stayed in Kerala, I think the creation of the space park is another opportunity to unlock that potential.

Kerala has lost several investment opportunities. It has lost so because of perceived unionism and the political troubles many industries have faced. But, given the slow loss of a remittance economy, there is a slow return of small and medium enterprises in the state. Unfortunately, the state has slowly lost land with no space for large industries.

The Space Park idea is a great place for space companies to register and operate from. Will it be inviting enough to get companies to move from Bengaluru to Kerala Space Park?

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