Indian space sector has endless potential: Capt. Gopichand Thotakura

The Indian space sector, led by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and other private players, has endless potential, and it’s time to take elephant steps to scale higher, said Captain Gopichand Thotakura on Monday.

“India has achieved something which other countries have not been able to achieve for decades. And to really defy landing on the South Pole, as the first country shows that the potential is absolutely endless,” Captain Gopichand, who is soon set to become the first Indian to become a space tourist, told

Captain Gopichand will soon be a part of the six-person crew flying on Blue Origin’s NS-25 mission to the edge of space.

He said that most of space travel is restricted by funding. But with the opening of the sector to public-private partnership “space is not the limit anymore, we can reach far beyond what any other country has already reached. And what you saw with Chandrayaan is just a small example”.

He said that India, which is the most populated country in the world, has a foot in almost every industry possible, but “we are yet to put a human in a rocket launched from Sriharikota”.

“The funding is what we’re missing,” which will now happen due to privatisation of the sector.

Lauding the efforts of ISRO, he said the funds which the ISRO spent on the Chandrayaan mission to the Moon are “unbelievable”.

In August 2023, the Chandrayaan-3 mission, led by scientists at ISRO, made history by becoming the first nation in the world to land near the south pole of the Moon. It has also become the fourth nation to make a soft landing on the Moon after the erstwhile USSR, the US, China.

“I think that the world is ready to be awakened with what ISRO can do,” he said while speaking about the Gaganyaan mission and more from ISRO. He, however, noted that “It’s not about baby steps anymore, we need to take elephant steps”.

The Gaganyaan mission aims to send a manned three-day mission to space, which will orbit 400 km above Earth and will return.

Four group captains from the Indian Air Force — Prasanth Balakrishnan Nair, Ajit Krishnan, and Angad Pratap, and wing commander Shubanshu Shukla — have been selected for the mission, slated for 2025.

Captain Gopichand, said to aspire for a day when a civilian, from a non-science background, from the Indian soil would fly to space, either as an astronaut or as a tourist.

“It is one of the things where I want to contribute. I don’t come from a military background. To be selected for such missions is to break the barrier, to put a civilian in space, to have our blood, who’s not from a military background. “

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