VenkataS wrote:It does not matter if the technology was handed to SpaceX on a platter. What is stopping ISRO from doing the same thing and cultivating capable private Indian players in the space market.
Are you sure that ISRO is not cultivating capable private Indian players? If you have proof to your above statement, please let us know.
Coming to SpaceX., it did not get anything on platter., it was breastfed by NASA - check out Elon Musk's statement. After the infant becomes toddler., it is always nice to say - "look that baby is now standing on her own two legs".
Now coming to "it does not matter if technology was handed to spacex on platter"., what you miss that the technology has to be developed first for it to be handed over to a private player. No private player is going to take the risk of flying a shuttle or launching a retro-rocket equipped rocket unless it is assured of returns on its investments including failures. So that risk is taken up first by public agencies (NASA/ISRO) and then passed on based on COTS benefits.
What ISRO is doing is cool and what SpaceX is doing is cool as well. They are treading new territory with respect to landing their boosters back on earth. We should count on them being in the game over the long haul. Even if the first few/several boosters that they land are not reusable they are gaining valuable insight during this process.
US has lots of money., it is almost 10x times the Indian economy. Its USAF can afford to fly space shuttles like X-37B while its COTS program can encourage spacex to try alternatives like retro-boosters (which can also be used for say landing on asteroids or mars or titan or moon etc).
For ISRO on shoe string budgets and Jean Druze class detractors., it is always going to use its budget sparingly., where it can make calculated bets for assured returns. Hence the comparison between NASA/SpaceX/US and ISRO/India is invalid and IMHO unnecessary.
SpaceX might turn out to be a credible competitor to ISRO in terms of lowest cost/per kg to orbit. ISRO should be prepared for this and plan their projects accordingly.
The problem with rocket launches is, even though there will be initial spare capacity - the demand eventually far outstrips the supply. For example Ariane is fully booked till 2016/2017. To get on Atlas launch, Mexico is grovelling. Even ISRO's launch schedule is full and they are upto their nose just trying to meet the existing demand.
Point is commercialization of space is gathering even fervent pace., and that means there will be no dearth of competitor at the same time there will be no dearth of demand (for example, US small sats may have to deal with a locked in market within US!) and Indians may find it cost prohibitive to hitch a launch on say Atlas.
Hence instead of focusing on what SpaceX is doing (or not doing)., the focus should be on basics - that is cheaper, better, safer and faster.
ISRO's RLV-TSTO must be viewed in that context.