Taking note of India's stunning successes in space research, the US aerospace industry believes it could become a world leader in space technology, and has urged the Obama administration to learn from it.
The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) of the US, in a special report this month, has advised the incoming administration to focus on quality education to remain in competition as India and China make rapid strides.
"In a recent survey of more than 270,000 college freshmen, only 7.5 per cent said they intended to major in engineering - the lowest level since the 1970s. At the same time, other nations, such as China and India, emphasise the education of scientists and engineers and could become the world leaders in technology," the report said.
"Efforts to sustain a strong US scientific and technical workforce are not only critical to the space workforce but also to our economy and national security," the AIA said in a report titled 'The Role of Space in Addressing America's National Priorities'.
This is a clear indication that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has made the global space industry tsars sit up. The agency successfully launched the lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 on October 22.
Early last year, it had launched Israel's TecSAR satellite under a commercial contract with Antrix Corporation, its commercial wing, followed by the launch of Cartosat-2a, IMS-1 and eight foreign nano satellites. All this translates into stiff competition for the US.
"As other nations make rapid advancements in acquiring or exploiting space capabilities, America's leadership in space is no longer guaranteed and the security of its space assets is no longer assured," said the report.
"Given the growing US dependence on these systems, the nation cannot afford to treat its national security, civil and commercial space capabilities as separate 'stovepipes' but rather should look at our space capabilities as a singular enterprise consistent with national goals and objectives," the AIA report said.
Underlining the critical importance of the space systems and technologies to the US economic, scientific and national security capabilities, it noted:
"Without space systems, US military forces have reduced operational effectiveness, policymakers cannot make informed decisions about the nation's security and economy and civil financial and communications capabilities are degraded or disrupted."
Putting the report in perspective, association president and chief executive officer Marion C Blakey wrote in the introductory remarks: "As a new administration and Congress take office, AIA is working to ensure that our nation's policymakers are aware of the major issues facing our aerospace industry. Because this report was prepared with the input of AIA's many aerospace companies, it reflects an industry view that looks beyond individual programmes to consider a much wider range of issues."