Rajnath Singh inaugurates space science centre named after Kalpana Chawla at Chandigarh University

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the Kalpana Chawla Centre for Research in Space Science and Technology (KCCRSST) at Chandigarh University in Gharuan on Monday. He also launched a scholarship scheme worth Rs 10 crore for the wards of defence personnel of the three services.

In his address, Rajnath Singh described the establishment of the research centre as an important step towards strengthening the space sector of the country. It is only through efforts such as these that India can become a leader in future technologies, he added.

Saying that Chawla was the ‘pride of India’, Singh expressed hope that the new research facility would scale new heights of success, similar to the remarkable achievements of the late India-born astronaut who brought universal recognition to her country of origin.

“In the 21st century, the future of India can be secured only when you have a gleam in your eyes to reach the stars and planets. More Indians like Aryabhatta, Vikram Sarabhai, Satish Dhawan and Kalpana Chawla will emerge from amongst you all if you have an eye for different planets and constellations,” the Defence Minister told the students present on the occasion.

Underlining the importance of space science in today’s times, Singh said that the sector is deeply connected with mapping, imaging and connectivity facilities, speedy transportation, weather forecast, disaster management as well as border security. The area has also played a crucial role in keeping the world connected during the Covid-19 pandemic, from testing to data transfer and analyses, he added.

“The government understands the potential of the space sector,” he said. “The major pillars of reforms in the sector as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi are: freedom of innovation to the private sector, the role of the government as an enabler, preparing the youth for the future and viewing the space sector as a resource for progress,” he said as he expressed hope that the actions identified in the pillars will take the space sector to newer heights and give new direction to the country’s progress.

Singh also called for an active and long-term public-private partnership to take the education and science sectors to a global level and make India a knowledge economy. “Today, the private sector is exposed to a large number of opportunities in the space sector. Whether it is defence or space, we are fully welcoming the private sector,” he said, reiterating the government’s commitment of strengthening the private sector for the holistic development of the nation.

Listing out some of the measures aimed at tapping the potential of the private sector, Singh said the government is sharing technology and expertise and opening its various facilities for the industry. He stated that transfer of matured technologies is under consideration.

On the setting up of the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), he said that the independent agency will act as a single window for matters related to the space sector.

The Defence Minister added that the government is laying special emphasis on promoting the use of space-based applications through every sector. Use of geo-tagging for roads and other infrastructure in villages, monitoring of development works in remote areas through satellite imagery, and identifying problems related to crops and fields for farmers is helping the government in many ways, he said.

Singh also called for working towards development of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, big data and blockchain for the overall development of the nation. He stressed that progress in space technology will develop scientific temper in the youth of the country and India will move forward in frontier technologies.

He lauded the Chandigarh University for setting records of success in research and innovation in the last few years. He described the achievements of the university as a symbol of the increasing participation of the private sector in the field of education. He also commended Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for being one of the world’s top space agencies since decades through its hard work and vision.

Remembering Kalpana Chawla, Singh described her as a symbol of women’s empowerment, who took a flight beyond imagination. He urged the people to maintain her zeal and enthusiasm and motivate their daughters to go ahead and touch unimaginable heights, echoing the government’s vision of increased participation of women in all sectors.

Established with the objective of training students in space science, satellite development and meeting future challenges in space research, the state-of-the-art KCCRSST would be the Ground Control Station for the Chandigarh University’s Student Satellite (CUSat), an in-house developed nano-satellite being designed by the students of the university and a Geo-Spatial Centre for research, besides other projects.

The CUSat will be among the 75 student-built satellites to be launched into space on the eve of the 75th Independence Day this year. The Chandigarh University has joined the list of 13 institutes like Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur and IIT Bombay, and became the first university in North India to design and develop its own satellite. For the project, 75 students of the University have been working on the CUSat project under the guidance of eminent Indian scientists.

With the launch of CUSat, Punjab will become the first border state in India to have its own satellite in space. The launch of the university’s nanosatellite, CUSat, will prove to be an important step for the country, as it will collect data related to border intrusion detection, agriculture, weather forecasting, natural disaster forecasting, which will be helpful in research and study of various problems in these areas. In addition, the GCS will help develop satellite research facilities and launch satellites in countries that do not have developed satellite technology.

Chancellor of Chandigarh University Satnam Singh Sandhu, scientists, faculty members and students were present at the inauguration of the KCCRSST.

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