Private Race For Space

The recent reforms provided in the Finance Ministry’s Stimulus Package have offered an opportunity to the private sector to enter the Space-tech field. The move has offered hopes for increased production and employment.

Crux of the Matter

The Reforms
The major reforms to increase the private sector’s role in space-tech are as follows:

  • Private companies would be allowed to use ISRO facilities.
  • Outer-space exploration made open to the private sector.
  • Tax for Maintenance, Reform, and Overhaul of Aviation revised to attract the Aviation industry to India.
  • Measures to increase private-sector’s role in Indian Space market

Expert Analysis
Dr. Tapan Mishra, a Senior Adviser to ISRO, provided an analysis of the reforms and suggested the paradigm for success in the measure:

  • Business worth ₹125,000 crores could be targeted after reforms.
  • Space sector must be divided as follows
    • Innovation: To be held by Govt as innovation would require job security, a relaxed environment, and advanced technology that the Govt provides.
    • Operation and Production: To be held by the private sector as it can employ a large number of people in production which would not require specialized labor as needed in Innovation. It would also require a business mindset to increase production which the private sector provides.
  • ISRO should initially aid industries regarding innovation in production as the private sector lacks ISRO level facilities.
  • He also suggested opening Satellite application and data research to start-ups which can work on small capital while employing highly innovative minds.
  • He also suggested the opening of Remote sensing data to citizens, which would find increased utility and would increase the scientific interest of people.

    Overall, the experts have welcome the Govt measures which would open the space-tech to market.

Space commerce is expected to grow quickly once Covid-19-related lockdowns are relaxed. These reforms will help spur the growth of Indian private space companies and increase India”s share in the global space market. It will be a real opportunity for Indian private sector considering the way defence-space is also growing now.

S. Rakesh, Chairman & Managing Director, Antrix Corporation Ltd

Can Privatization Help Expand?
If ISRO is to have a 5% share in Global Space Market – which is valued at approx. ₹25 trillion – it will be required to generate a revenue of ₹1.25 trillion. For that, the number of employees has to be around 1.25 lakh. ISRO would be unable to provide the specified amount of employment as it would inefficient and impractical for a government organization to scale up 10 times.

That gap can be filled by the private sector as it can work efficiently on production and operation with unskilled labour. Multiple private players can result in a competition that may ultimately drive quality. It would reduce the unemployment exacerbated by Coronavirus Lockdown as well.

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