Space For All
The final frontier is indeed within our grasp—finally. As you so lucidly explained in your December 2007 cover story, Our Man In Space, the world is just a few small leaps away from finally arriving in space in the real sense of the term. For the past 50 years or so since Sputnik, it’s been Russian cosmonauts and the American Space Shuttle crew who have been having all the fun. They have enjoyed levitation, space walks and the best window seats on the planet. But now the John Smiths and Ram Singhs of the world can hope to hop into a space vehicle for a joy ride, for business, or to meet family across the oceans. Hopefully, there won’t be anything like space lag to bother future travellers.
Chirinjeev Kathuria is basically an entrepreneur, but an entrepreneur who’s breaking new ground. Air travel was a dream for the common person back in the twenties but today most people can afford it. The same scenario will be repeated in the space travel business. Kathuria is right when he compares it to the internet. Back in the mid-nineties only a few top offices in India had internet access. Only those with plenty of disposable income could have internet at home. And everybody used their few allotted hours like it was the rarest commodity on earth. Today, internet is as ubiquitous in middle class homes like television. By as early as 2018 people in Mumbai or Bangalore could be saying: “Honey, I’m off to New York, be back by dinner.”
Kathuria doesn’t have the magical aura of Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic; in fact he looks like a banker or marketing person at best. However, this unassuming sardar could be to space travel what Boeing was to airlines. Space travel for the masses has been talked about for years but it’s only now that someone is talking about it in real launch dates. What sets PlanetSpace apart from the rest is that there’s no boast, bluster or big rush. They are concentrating on both cargo and people. Kathuria seems to be the right person at the right time.
India seems to be split between those who want to trust the US at all costs and others who believe it really is the axis of evil. However, it would be nice if we hugged the middle path. The US will be the most important country in the world for several more decades. Even after it ceases to be the world’s largest economy, America will have considerable influence. India and China have a long way to go before they can depose America. In that sense, we should accept their offer to work closely, hold military exercises etc. But American power won’t last for ever so India must take the long view and be prepared to take the pole position in world affairs sometime in the late 21 century. The Americans know this—their computer projections and war gaming must have told them this is India’s century. That’s the only reason they are in a hurry to dump old partner Pakistan and get into bed with India.
INDIA EMPIRE is one of the few magazines that has NRI interests at heart. The articles are amazing and the quality is good too. Keep it up.