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Address and interaction with the Scientists and engineers of China Academy of Space Technology (CAST)
Beijing, Nov 2 2012
Updated on Nov 2 2012
Published bywww.abdulkalam.com
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Bring the core competence of BRIC nation build the systems for the world

Science is borderless

I am indeed delighted to address and interact with the scientists, technologists and Engineers, and distinguished guests from the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST). My greetings to all of you. When I am thinking of the India and China which is working progressively hard to achieve the first 4 positions among the BRIC nations and regain the 17th century economic performance of both the nations. I strongly believe, if India and China joins together to work on many Global missions, then that is going to bring peace and prosperity not only to both countries, not only to ASIA but for the entire world. This helps to understand, that seventeenth century performance offers some guarantee of the future results.

According to Jim O'Neill, global economist at Goldman Sachs, the economic potential of Brazil, Russia, India and China is such that they could become among the four most dominant economies by the year 2050. These countries encompass over 25% of the world's land coverage and 40% of the world's population and hold a combined GDP (PPP) of 18.486 trillion dollars. On almost every scale, they would be the largest entity on the global stage. These four countries are among the biggest and fastest growing emerging markets. According to a 2010 report from Goldman Sachs, China might surpass the US in equity market capitalization terms by 2030 and become the single largest equity market in the world. By 2020, America's GDP might be only slightly larger than China's GDP. Together, the four BRICs may account for 41% of the world's market capitalization by 2030, the report said. In late 2010, China surpassed Japan's GDP for the first time, with China's GDP standing at $5.88 trillion compared to Japan's $5.47 trillion. China thus became the world's second-largest economy after the United States.

With this background, I was thinking what thoughts I can share with you. I would like to share my thoughts on the topic "Bring the core competence of BRIC nation build the systems for the world".

Technology Evolution

Throughout the last 120 centuries, unique cultures have come into existence due to advancement in technology. The first 118 centuries had a dominance of primarily stone, bronze & iron ages. The last two centuries have seen rapid development of chemical age. The advancements made in material science and technology gave the impetus for computer, communication, nuclear, space and biological ages to flourish. Successions of these technologies and their convergence have involved progression from simpler materials to more complex forms of science and engineering and unprecedented impact on society. We are today at the convergence of Nano, Bio and Information technologies. This age, I feel will create further historical revolution and nations like ours, particularly, have to use the challenge and opportunity, launch research and teaching programmes on the convergence of technologies, that will have a tremendous societal impact.

Convergence of Technologies

The information technology and communication technology has already converged leading to Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Information Technology combined with bio-technology has led to bio-informatics. Now, Nano-technology is knocking at our doors. It is the field of the future that will replace microelectronics and many fields with tremendous application potential in the areas of medicine, electronics and material science. When Nano technology and ICT meet, integrated silicon electronics, photonics are born and it can be said that material convergence will happen. With material convergence and biotechnology linked, a new science called Intelligent Bioscience will be born which would lead to a disease free, happy and more intelligent human habitat with longevity and high human capabilities. Convergence of bio-nano-info technologies can lead to the development of nano robots. Nano robots when they are injected into a patient, my expert friends say, it will diagnose and deliver the treatment exclusively in the affected area and then the nano-robot gets digested as it is a DNA based product.

Convergence of ICT, aerospace and Nano technologies will emerge and revolutionize the aerospace industry. This technological convergence will enable building of cost effective low weight, high payload, and highly reliable aerospace systems which can be used for inter-planetary transportation.

50 years of Space and the events

Having started my own career in aerospace arena, some forty six years back, I have been constantly reviewing the contribution made by aerospace to humanity. Aerospace science and technology has been cradle for a number of innovations. It has brought a culture of a number of disciplines working together to achieve state of the art systems. It has connected people from remotest parts of the earth. It has provided new tools for understanding our own planet and its atmosphere as well understanding the solar system and beyond. It has brought nations to work together. But inherently, the dreams of aerospace research have created a mind set of competitiveness and possessiveness. Today if you look at nations, there are many space systems developed in different parts of the world which are underutilized. "Standing alone" also has caused certain feelings of insecurity and suspicion. The technology levels are getting saturated particularly in the area of low cost of access to space with individual countries finding it beyond them in terms of resource allocation both financial and human resources. Can we develop with the combined power of various nations, technologies and systems which can serve the humanity a whole, better? Can we together think of "code of conducts" and "mechanisms" to protect the enormous space infrastructure we are putting to use? Can we use the best of the current capabilities of nations in launch vehicles, satellites and applications together?

These thoughts led me to discuss with many space experts in our country and elsewhere in formulation of a "World Space Vision" As a part of this exercise, I have been interacting with many space forums like Boston University, International Space University, Strasburg, CNES, France, Master Control Facility, ISRO Hassan, Aeronautical and Astronautical Societies of Hyderabad, Caltech USA, Rice University Houston, International Astronautical Congress 2007, Hyderabad and Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram and Institute of Defence Analysis and Studies, New Delhi. Simultaneously I have also been interacting with diverse groups of people and students on variety of societal aspects like development, food, agriculture, water, health, energy and other areas. It is certain that forefront of research and technology have to have a focus to address the problems facing humanity as a whole in current and the ensuing decades.

During my space career, I have realized how the very act of taking up space missions of multidiscipline and complexity requires several people and organizations work together which would have been otherwise unthinkable. The common missions make people to orient to focused goals. Similarly we have seen around the world bilateral and multilateral projects which have brought nations together. I have been contemplating how this natural synergy provided by "space" way of working can be further carried over in the twenty first century.


When the Space faring nations working together for realizing the major space missions will not only lead to common space technological breakthroughs, but will pave the way for instilling confidence among the nations resulting solutions to the major problems such as energy, water and communication thus ensuring security and peace.

Hence, the future space programme has to be concerned and the missions have be evolved to meet the challenges of having a clean environment and counter the limitation of fossil fuel energy systems focused by World Energy Forum and harnessing the potential of outer space for finding newer materials and also harnessing materials like helium-3 from moon. I consider for realizing this, all the space faring nations have to come together and bring down the cost of access to space. As the space cooperation in outer space increases, the threat to space security will reduce because every space faring nation will have a vision and business in our own planet, the other planets and the moon. Keeping this in mind, I have been proposing a theme called World Space Vision 2050 including the need of forming a World Space Council. Simultaneously, I have emphasized on the space faring nations on the formation of an international space force for regulating and preventing any unauthorized weapon or weapon related system activity in the space. Now let me discuss about World Space Vision 2050.

World Space Vision 2050: With the background and strength of technological progress in Space systems in the world, I would suggest the World Space Community to evolve World Space Vision 2050 with the following three components:

1. Large Scale Societal missions and Low cost access to space.

2. Comprehensive space security

3. Space exploration and current application missions

It is also essential to create World Space Council, which could oversee the planning, and implementation of large scale and societal missions like energy from space, space security and deep space exploration. International cooperation according to me is foundation for sensible investment in space. Such a unified, global approach will enable the world to see a quantum jump in the progress in space science and technology for the benefit of all the nations of the world for many generations to come. So, the space scientists and leaders of the world have a great challenge and opportunity.

World Knowledge Platform

I am of the view that the present capabilities of major space faring nations are not optimally utilized. The launch vehicles of the world, the spacecraft of the world, the application potential of the world, the space scientific research potential of the world and above all the huge costs envisaged for space 2050 programmes would call for certain ?paradigm shift? in nations to work together to bring the benefits of space to humanity as a whole. This is possible as my experience suggests, only if we have a hard cooperation of each nation contributing substantially in technology and resource. In this context, I would like to share with you two Indian experiences in international cooperation.

One is a Joint venture programme between India and Russia with the shared funding of $300 million that has resulted into development leading to production of a world's first supersonic cruise missile called Brahmos in the defence sector.

Another experience of India is the Pan African e-Network initiative costing over $100 million, for connecting 53 Pan African Nations for providing education, healthcare and e-governance services from 5 Indian Universities, 5 African Universities, 12 Super Specialty Hospital from India and 5 Super Specialty Hospitals from Africa to 53 african nations and also connecting the President?s of African nations and provide e-Governance Services.

These experiences give me the confidence that hard international cooperation indeed can accelerate the application of space science and technology leading to fast results for societal application. Such international cooperation itself will aid the security dimension in space. A world space vision can trigger many young minds towards hitherto "impossible" challenges.

When we think of BRIC nations, each nation has a core competencies in multiple field of expertise such as AeroSpace, Aviation, Defence, Agriculture, Food Processing, Manufacturing, hardware, software and networking, Infrastructure development, Water and Energy sector including Solar Energy, Bio-fuel, Wind Energy and Nuclear Energy sector. I was thinking what it is the one mission which will unite all the BRIC nations to join together and to work for realizing the Global systems, Global product which can be marketed Globally and also benefiting the humanity to bring peace and prosperity. There may be many missions which can be identified and BRIC should launch a $5 Billion Joint Venture mission to realize or build the system for the world.

Since I am in the midst of China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), let me discuss about certain challenges and propose certain missions which are relevant to the field of interest which should result into a mega mission for the humanity to cherish and bring prosperity and peace to the world, which I would like to share with the audience of China Academy of Space Technology (CAST):

The aerospace challenges for World Knowledge Platform

1. The problem facing the humanity on life on earth and protection and sustainability of environment, requires many areas of research like integrated study of atmosphere, accurate forecasting and predictions of climate and weather, breakthroughs in earthquake forecasting, making energy independence and finding solution to water problems for the growing population for the world and fast track improvement of education/health care system throughout the globe. They require integrated global approaches and synergy of all space faring nations.

2. While in the last fifty years, tremendous progress has been made by space faring nations in space science, technology and applications, our understanding of our own planet is limited, and we have much less knowledge of moon, mars, other planets and the solar system and beyond. I find planning and conducting such missions need lead times of the order of 10-15 years and individual nations find it difficult to increase the rate of exploration momentum with the available technology level, funds and human resources.

3. In the last fifty years, space faring nations have developed core competence like strong application orientation in India, planetary mission and space station capabilities in USA and Russia, a model of nations working together in Europe, manned space mission capability in China, aerospace industry capability of ISRAEL and launch vehicle and space craft expertise in all the major space faring countries. There have been a number of missions with bilateral and multilateral partnership with several complimentary efforts. The question is whether the international cooperation is consistent with the challenges of the next fifty years. Can we graduate in the ensuing years to partnership missions among space faring nations for the benefit of entire humanity using the core competence of multiple nations, financial sharing and management mechanism with overall goals like Space Solar power satellite, industrial belt on the Moon and the habitat on the Mars. Political will is necessary for such international missions.

4. Missions can be evolved, but one important constraint among space faring nations is the non-availability of the right type of young human resources. I heard many space experts in the international forums as to how they were inspired by sputnik and Apollo era and how recently people are inspired when Mars Curiosity Rover landed on moon and ISRO's Chandrayan-I has found the water molecule H2O/HO in the moon surface. So what we need is a global vision that would attract the imagination of young and inspire them to their own dreams to achieve. Spotting young talent and training them requires attention internationally.

5. There is a need for a global human resource cadre in space and their training to research, development and missions.

There was strong feeling among many participants that enough communication is not ensured by the performing space community with general public on the tools they have created for utility of space.

Certainly these missions will lead the planet earth to transform the world to prosperity without poverty, peaceful without fear of war and a happy place to live for the whole humanity using space technologies as one of the prime movers.

With these aspects in mind, I am visualizing the World space profile by the year 2050, which will lead to empowering the world through the Aerospace science and technological breakthrough realizing the hitherto impossible challenges and provide energy security leading to energy independence which will pave the way for food security and water security among the nations.

Conclusion: World Space Profile by 2050

In this context, let me now visualize the space profile in 2050, with the focus of World Space Vision 2050, being steered by the World Space council.

1. A world, where all citizens will have equitable distribution of energy through solar power and solar powered satellites.

2. A world where all citizens even in the remotest parts will have electronic connectivity and knowledge connectivity through constellation of communication satellites.

3. A world where all citizens will have safe drinking water by the technologies of seawater desalination using solar power.

4. A clean planet earth through the use of solar energy from solar power satellite and power generated from helium-3 derived from Moon.

5. A Planet earth will have a clean industrial complex on Moon and an alternate habitat at Mars.

6. Planet earth will be transformed to prosperity without poverty, peaceful without fear of war and a happy place to live for the whole humanity using space technologies as one of the prime movers.

With these words, let me greet all the members of the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) for success in the Aerospace mission and work for realizing the World Knowledge Platform which will bring prosperity and peace to the world. My best wishes to all of you.

May God bless you.

By, Dr. APJ Abdulkalam

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2   Keith HensonPosted OnMay 22 2013 03:08:58
Very nice talk. I have written for years about the subject of power satellites. You can see examples by Googling on my name and oil drum. To displace coal without coercion required a cost of around 2 cents (US) per kWh. To reach that figure, launch cost to GEO needs to be $100/kg or less. That can probably be done but it takes a huge investment in transportation infrastructure; an economic model last year had the peak investment at around $140 B. More recently a conceptual advance (obvious in hindsight) reduced the peak cost to perhaps $55 B and a further advanced idea may cut it even more. Details if there is interest. Could send me an email contact for Wu Yansheng? Would like to discuss this with CAST. Keith Henson (Google for the Wikipedia article on L5 Society)

1   Keith HensonPosted OnMay 16 2013 23:15:21
Very nice talk. I have written for years about the subject of power satellites. You can see examples by Googling on my name and oil drum. To displace coal without coercion required a cost of around 2 cents (US) per kWh. To reach that figure, launch cost to GEO needs to be $100/kg or less. That can probably be done but it takes a huge investment in transportation infrastructure; an economic model last year had the peak investment at around $140 B. More recently a conceptual advance (obvious in hindsight) reduced the peak cost to perhaps $55 B and a further advanced idea may cut it even more. Details if there is interest. Could send me an email contact for Wu Yansheng? Would like to discuss this with CAST. Keith Henson (Google for the Wikipedia article on L5 Society)

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