Radhakrishnan denies that India is competing with China, despite speculation that India accelerated its Mars mission to prove a point against its militarily and economically superior Asian rival.
He also defends ISRO and its 16,000-strong workforce against suggestions that New Delhi should not be spending on space when more than one-third of the country’s children are malnourished and half of Indians have no toilets.
“Space is one area right from the beginning that has been contributing to the development process of the country,” he said, pointing to better weather forecasting for farmers and satellite communication networks.
Upendra Choudhury, an associate professor at Aligarh Muslim University and expert on India’s ballistic missile program, said the spending has boosted national security.
“India’s achievements in space technology are contributing to its missile technology, including the Agni-V,” he told reporters.
The Agni-V, capable of reaching Beijing and eastern Europe, was test fired for the first time in April last year and catapulted India into a small group of countries with long-distance missile technology.