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- Prelims – Science and Technology
- Mains – GS 3 (Science and Technology)
Context: IN-SPACe, the government body for dealing with the private sector space industry, has received 125 proposals from start-ups since last June.
IN–SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre):
- To facilitate private sector participation, the government has created the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), in June 2020, as a single-window, independent, nodal agency which functions as an autonomous agency in Department of Space (DOS).
- Established as a single window agency for all space sector activities of private entities, IN-SPACe plays an important role in boosting the private space sector economy in India.
- IN-SPACe, is responsible to promote, enable authorize and supervise various space activities of the NGEs (Non-Governmental Entities) that include, among others, the building of launch vehicles & satellites and providing space-based services; sharing of space infrastructure and premises under the control of DOS/ISRO; and establishment of new space infrastructure and facilities.
- It is meant to act as “the agency to promote, handhold and authorise private sector activities in the sector, besides enabling sharing of technical facilities and expertise from ISRO”.
- In-SPACe had signed MoUs with 13 such start-ups and would soon sign with four more. In-SPACe planned to open incubation centres in India, which would help start-ups access funds and legal advice.
Space industry in India:
- India’s space programme is one of the most well-developed in the world and is driven by a state-owned agency—the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
- The global space industry in 2021 was valued at $469 billion, (set to grow to $1 trillion by 2040), but India’s share was only 2 per cent ($10 billion).
- Currently, India constitutes 2-3% of the global space economy and is expected to enhance its share to >10% by 2030 at a CAGR of 48%.
- In the global space market, rocket and satellite launch services—an area in which ISRO specialises—amount to only 5% share. This segment requires robust infrastructure and heavy investments. Satellite-based services and ground-based systems account for the remaining 95%.
- At present, the government drives a certain level of participation by the Indian private sector, primarily in the rocket and satellite launch services segment.
- However, enhanced private sector participation will be necessary to penetrate satellite-based services and ground-based system segments.
Private startups in Indian Space Industry:
- Indian Space Association (ISpA), an association of Indian space companies, said that there were 102 space start-ups in India.
- Several Indian startups have started their operations. Some of the startups include:
- Digantara: It is an Indian private company working to secure long-term space flight safety by developing space debris tracking and monitoring services.
- Bellatrix Aerospace: Headquartered in Bangalore, it is an Indian private aerospace manufacturer and small satellite company.
- Tathya Earth: The company leverages deep learning algorithms for satellite imagery and maritime data to identify important real-time trends in the global economy.
- Skyroot, another Startup founded by two former ISRO scientists. The company is building “Vikram” rockets from scratch, which are the first brand of rockets made by the private sector in India.
- Agnikul Cosmos, a Startup founded by two 21-year-old college students became the world’s first company to successfully test a 3D-sprinted rocket engine, which is a new and upcoming tech in the space industry and is predicted to replace conventional assembly models.
- For the Indian space industry to grow and have many SpaceX-like companies, it has to meet only a key challenge — an assured market. All along the Indian space industry had two players — the government as a provider of demand and ISRO as the supplier of space services— but now, with the private sector getting into both demand and supply, the market is uncertain.
Significance of private player involvement in space sector:
- Their involvement will allow ISRO to focus more on new technologies, exploration missions and human spaceflight programme like NASA.
- Private sector participation will open a new pool of resources and talent.
- Some of the planetary exploration missions will also be opened up to the private sector through an ‘announcement of opportunity’ mechanism.
- Allowing industries and others like students, researchers or academic bodies greater access to space assets would lead to a much better utilisation of India space resources.
- It will enable Indian Industry to be an important player in the global space economy. With this, there is an opportunity for large-scale employment in the technology sector and India becoming a Global technology powerhouse.
Restricting space activities to ISRO, limits proper utilisation of talent all over the country. With demographic dividend, private sector participation can exploit the talent across the nation contributing a lot to space explorations in India.
Government step to inclusion of private player in space industry:
Several steps have been initiated towards opening the space sector for private entities in a phased manner. like:
New Space India Limited:
- New Space India Limited (NSIL), incorporated in March 2019 (under the Companies Act, 2013) is a wholly owned Government of India company, under the administrative control of Department of Space (DOS).
- NSIL is the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) with the primary responsibility of enabling Indian industries to take up high technology space related activities and is also responsible for promotion and commercial exploitation of the products and services emanating from the Indian space programme.
Draft National Space Policy 2020:
- The Draft National Space Policy 2020 was thus unveiled with the aim to increase public-private partnerships in space research and exploration activities.
- Instead of only partnering on the manufacturing and logistical side of operations earlier, private players were now given access to ISRO’s infrastructure, technical resources and data to grow.
Humans in Space Policy 2021:
- Recently, India’s space agency unveiled a draft “Humans in Space Policy 2021” that would look at facilitating participation of non-traditional players in undertaking space activities.
Indian Space Association (ISpA):
- In October 2021, Indian Prime Minister launched the ISpA. This association will help private players carry out independent space activities, facilitate services and technology developed by ISRO to be utilised in the private sector, provide regulatory and policy inputs and support start-ups, MSMEs and academia.
- ISpA will support the government’s vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar India’ (self-reliant India) and ‘Make in India’ to become a leader in the global space industry.
- It would act as a single-window agency and open the Indian space sector to private enterprises and start-ups.
- Over the past two decades, private enterprises such as Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Blue Origin and Arianespace have revolutionised the space sector by reducing costs and turnaround time in other spacefaring countries.
- However, in India, private enterprises have been limited to being merely suppliers to the government’s space programme.
- Now, the Government of India strongly believes that optimal utilisation of space technology will revolutionise the delivery of governance services and enhance developmental efforts.
- The Indian space sector can potentially inspire the young populace with scientific curiosity and encourage them to pursue a career in STEM.
- Above all, the Indian space sector has an opportunity to create a vibrant ecosystem for start-ups and private enterprises.
- Being one of the few spacefaring countries, India is increasingly encouraging private sector participation through various reforms that are expected to help India achieve a market share of more than 10% in the global space sector by 2030.
Source: The Hindu