The recent union cabinet meet has decided to open India’s space sector for private players and has announced a new autonomous body IN-SPACe – Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre under the Ministry of Atomic Energy and Space to encourage private players to invest in the space industry.
Complete Coverage: Private Race For Space
Crux of the Matter
IN-SPACe will be a new autonomous body formed to regulate and permit the entry of private players in the space industry. Having its own directorates for security, legal, promotion and monitoring purposes it will act as a national nodal agency for hand-holding and promoting private sector in space endeavours.
We believe that private players should play a larger role than just supplying the parts and components. India is among a handful of countries which have advanced Space technology and this can play a significant role in boosting the industrial base of the country.K Sivan, ISRO Chief
Till now ISRO was the only player working in the space research, missions, launching, and management of the satellites but with this significant reform, private players will be allowed to launch and control the broadcast satellites and provide end to end space commercial services.
Private players can now undertake the research activities and work with ISRO in various science and interplanetary missions and also will be allowed to build rockets and satellites, provide launching services, and own satellites.
Recalibration Of NSIL
New Space India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of ISRO which had the primary responsibility of enabling Indian industries to take up high technology space-related activities now has been recalibrated to transform its approach from a supply-driven to a demand-driven model.
NSIL will take over ISRO’s responsibilities of operational launch vehicles, satellites, and commercial activities and will now handle all future technology transfer of small satellite manufacturing as well as SSLV and PSLV on behalf of ISRO.
Challenges & Role of ISRO
India barely has a barely in the global space economy which is already worth $360 billion. 95% of this market is related to satellite-based services, and ground-based systems whereas only 2% of this is for rocket and satellite launch services requiring large infrastructure and heavy investment.
Currently, the private industry involvement in India’s space sector is limited to the manufacturing and fabrication of rockets and satellites. Private players have also been unable to compete because they lack the technology to undertake independent space projects like SpaceX and have a limited role of being suppliers of components and sub-systems.
The demand for space-based applications and services is growing even within India, and ISRO is unable to cater to this. The need for satellite data, imageries, and space technology has been growing tremendously and to meet the demand ISRO would have to be expanded 10 times the current level.
With IN-SPACe focusing on private players, the ISRO Chief clarified that ISRO’s activities will not be reduced and it will continue to work on advanced research and development, interplanetary missions, human spaceflight, and capacity building in the space sector.
Space industry experts have welcomed the reforms but have also voiced out the need to handhold the new players in the initial period till they establish their own costly setups. It is seen as an excellent move which not only will unlock the full potential of the Indian space sector but also will contribute to providing employment and increasing exports.
“This will enable private players to participate in the space programme independently or in collaboration with ISRO and also enable them to access ISRO”s facilities.”Dr Tapan Misra, Senior Advisor, ISRO & Former Director, Space Applications Centre, ISRO
An anonymous ISRO official has cautioned about the friction that will arise until the mechanisms are put in place and there is clear identification of responsibilities, resources, and manpower.
Former ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishan points out to the fact that elsewhere in the world the private industry and space-start-ups are becoming the drivers of the new space age whereas India is ridden with challenges in international marketing of strategic high technology products and services.
We should look forward to preserving the ‘soul of ISRO’ and its exceptional traits while implementing this historic and significant transition.K. Radhakrishnan, Former ISRO Chairman
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