The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) record-breaking launching of 104 satellites in one go has been trumped up by Indian media as the dawn of a new day in the history of space science and accomplishments. However, given the fact that only 3 of these satellites were actually Indian-made and there was no ‘cutting-edge’ technology used, the only thing this tells us is that – in 3 years since Russia made the record – satellites and other technological devices have gotten much smaller.

Research and development into space science has yielded unexpectedly beneficial offshoots for countries that have indulged in it, and India is likely to be no different. Developing cost effective methods to explore space has been a primary focus, and any new developments can be used to give a boost to India’s rapidly booming economy.

The private space market continues to grow, and India is most definitely a player in it. A private start-up in the country is competing in Google Lunar X Prize – announced in 2007, the competition between 16 teams offers roughly $30 million to the first private teams to land on the Moon (unmanned mission) with a robot that travels at least 500 meters and transmits high-definition images and video back to earth.

But other than the obvious monetary or scientific gains, there is the added bonus of a positive soft image being portrayed across the globe. Scientific feats and advancements go a long way in establishing that the country is moving faster towards development, and this perception, whether true or not, will hold other favours for the eastern neighbour.

In terms of soft power, India has left Pakistan behind in the dust. Foreign policy is greatly dependant on the image of a country in international circles, and if Pakistan wants a greater voice across the globe, competing with this aspect against the rival is also key. While sending satellites into space might not be the answer, a more holistic approach to economics through funding its more neglected sections might prove to be useful moving forward.