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24% of Indians want to work in space sector, more than twice levels in US, UK, Australia & Korea : Global survey

Some 24% of Indians want to work in the space sector – more than double the levels in the US, UK, South Korea and Australia – says an independent global survey sponsored by British satellite operator Inmarsat.

The global space survey comes at a time when competition is set to intensify in India’s relatively nascent broadband-from-space services segment after Bharti Group-backed OneWeb and

Jio entered the satcoms ring and Elon Musk’s Starlink too awaits regulatory approvals to launch its much awaited space internet services in the country.

“Our research shows that 24% of Indians desire to work in the space industry, which is well above the levels in Germany (12%), China (12%), US (10%), UK (5%), South Korea (7%) and Brazil (14%),” said the survey. It added that younger people are more excited about the potential of space and the sector would need to hire the very best talent to prevent growth from stalling.

The global report, titled `What on Earth is the Value of Space,’ is the biggest such survey, involving 20,000 respondents in 11 countries (including India).

It said China and India are more focused on space exploration, in that, 75% of respondents in China and 74% in India were more likely to rank space exploration as “essential” compared to 61% in the US, underlining that more recent entrants are more aware of the value of exploration.

India is seen as a top emerging market for satellite internet services as around 75% of rural India doesn’t have access to broadband. A PLUM Consulting study had said satellite broadband to India’s unserved regions can contribute up to $184.6 billion in GDP growth per annum by 2030.

The Inmarsat-backed survey, though, found that 41% of Indians are worried about space junk and collisions, especially when the likes of Musk’s Starlink, Bharti-backed OneWeb, Canada’s Telesat and Amazon’s Project Kuiper are setting up global constellations of low-earth

(LEO) satellites to deliver high-speed, low-latency satellite broadband services in rural and remote regions globally, including in India.

“The myriad of LEO mega-constellations now being built present an opportunity, (but) without proper oversight, they will create a massive amount of space debris, not to mention the issue of orbital congestion or even the possibility of damaging the earth’s atmosphere,” said Inmarsat’s CEO Rajeev Suri in the global survey. He added that “such risks must be properly understood and addressed through robust and enforceable regulation”.

The survey noted that 46% of Indians are concerned about polluting space while 41% are worried about space junk and collisions. It added that “38% of Indians had the highest levels of anxiety” about the rising scale of human activity in space damaging the earth’s atmosphere.

“2/5ths of India is concerned about space junk, and we need to raise the consciousness about the importance of space beyond the social media placements of billionaires funding (satellite) constellations,” said Todd McDonnel, Inmarsat’s president for government affairs.

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