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Space Technology and Private Investments

Introduction

The Department of space wishes to encourage private companies' participation in space activities in order to increase the diffusion of space technology and boost the country's space economy. ISRO will support DOS in its goal of opening up the space sector to private industry. In this regard, the following reforms in the mode of execution of space activities in the country are proposed:


  • In order to enhance utilization and maximize benefits from the space assets, it is proposed to change the approach from “Supply Based Model” to “Demand Based Model”. NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) will act as the aggregator of user requirements and obtain commitments.


  • Encouraging Non-Government-Private-Entities (NGPEs) to make launch vehicles and satellites.


  • NSIL to take ownership from DOS for operational launch vehicles, commercialize launches, satellites and services.


It's not that the private sector isn't involved in India's space sector. The private sector now manufactures and fabricates a large portion of rockets and satellites. There is also an increase in the participation of research institutions. However, it is not happening at the desired pace.


Indian industry had only a 3% share of a rapidly growing global space economy worth at least $360 billion. Only 2% of this market was for rocket and satellite launch services, which necessitate a large infrastructure and significant investment. The remaining 95% was for satellite-based services and ground-based systems.


The Indian space economy must expand in order to capitalise on the enormous potential of space opportunities both domestically and globally. Given the increasing number of internet users in India, the space industry has a lot of untapped potential. Experts also argue that in order to meet this growing demand, it is critical to look beyond traditional modes of internet delivery and seek out space-based solutions.


IN-SPACe (The new Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre)


The new Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), will assess the needs and demands of private players, including educational and research institutions, and explore ways to meet these requirements in collaboration with ISRO. Existing ISRO infrastructure, both ground and space-based, scientific and technical resources, and even data, will be made available to interested parties in order for them to carry out their space-related activities.


However, the Indian industry is unable to compete because its role has previously been primarily that of component and sub-system suppliers. Indian industries lack the resources and technology to undertake independent space projects of the type undertaken by US companies such as SpaceX or to provide space-based services.


Furthermore, demand for space-based applications and services is increasing even within India, and ISRO is unable to meet it. Satellite data, imagery, and space technology are now required in a variety of industries, including weather, agriculture, transportation, and urban development, among others.


IN-SPACe is intended to be both a facilitator and a regulator. It will serve as a liaison between ISRO and private parties, assessing how to best utilise India's space resources and expand space-based activities.


New Space India Limited (NSIL)


It was founded in 2019 (under the Companies Act, 2013), and is a wholly-owned Government of India company that reports to the Department of Space (DOS). NSIL is the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), with the primary responsibility of enabling Indian industries to engage in high-tech space-related activities. It is also in charge of the promotion and commercial exploitation of products and services derived from the Indian space programme. NSIL draws on the proven heritage of the Indian Space Program and ISRO's vast experience in diverse branches of Space Technology to meet the needs of its customers.

The major business areas of NSIL include:


  • Production of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) through industry;


  • Production and marketing of space-based services, including launch services and space-based applications like transponder leasing, remote sensing and mission support services;


  • Building of Satellites (both Communication and Earth Observation) as per user requirements.


  • Transfer of technology developed by ISRO centres/ units and constituent institutions of Dept. of Space;


  • Marketing spin off technologies and products/ services emanating out of ISRO activities


  • Consultancy services


Antrix Corporation Limited


Antrix Corporation Limited (ACL), Bengaluru, is a wholly-owned Government of India company that reports to the Department of Space. Antrix Corporation Limited was established in September 1992 as a private limited company owned by the Government of India as a marketing arm of ISRO for the promotion and commercial exploitation of space products, technical consultancy services, and the transfer of ISRO-developed technologies. Another major goal is to assist India in developing space-related industrial capabilities.


Antrix, ISRO's commercial and marketing arm, provides space products and services to international customers worldwide. With fully equipped state-of-the-art facilities, Antrix provides end-to-end solutions for many space products, ranging from the supply of hardware and software, including simple subsystems to a complex spacecraft, for a wide range of applications including communications, earth observation, and scientific missions; space related services such as remote sensing data service, transponder lease service; launch services via operational launch vehicles (PSLV and GSLV).


Conclusion


The availability and demonstration of emerging technologies are crucial in defining modern geopolitics. As a result, given the country's current geopolitical situation and security threats, growth in the space sector can help the country gain leverage over others.


India has demonstrated its ability to conduct space research and projects with success. India wants to tap into the private sector with the new approach, which could help the industry grow. While this is true but dangers also must be considered, unregulated private sector participation in the space sector will not only have socioeconomic consequences but may also end up undermining the work that ISRO has been doing successfully for over five decades.


Because private space activities will increase significantly if the policies are implemented as planned, India must develop a strong legislative framework for space to ensure sustainable and inclusive growth.


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