Participation of Private Sector in Space Sector Major Reform: ISRO Chief

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Allowing the private sector to carry out space activities like building of rockets, and satellites, and providing launch services is a major reform, ISRO chief K Sivan said on Thursday.

The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the participation of the private sector in the entire range of space activities, including planetary exploration missions.

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Terming this a “major reform”, Sivan said the private sector can also be part of the inter-planetary missions of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

“The private sector will be enabled to carry out space activities like building of rockets, satellites, providing launch services on a commercial basis.

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“The private sector can also be part of interplanetary missions of ISRO. This is being planned to be done through the announcement of opportunities,” he said in an online briefing.

He, however, added that ISRO’s activities are not going to reduce and it will continue to carry out space-based activities including advanced research and development, inter-planetary and human space flight missions.

When asked whether policy foreign private players will be allowed, Sivan told PTI that a decision on this is yet to be taken.

Unlike many countries in the West, where civilian space activities like launching satellites are opened up for private players, it remained closed in India. However, with this decision, it is likely to change.

Sivan said the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (In-Space) has been created under the Department of Space as a separate vertical for taking independent decisions with respect to permitting and regulating space activities of the private sector.

He said the move will not only enable accelerated growth of the space sector but will also help the Indian industry play a major role in the global space economy.

The current global space economy is pegged at USD 360 billion, while the Indian space economy is estimated to be around USD 7 billion.

This is going to be a major system and reform in the Department of Space. In-Space will have its own directorates for technical, legal safety and security, activity promotion as well as for monitoring purposes so that they can take an independent decision, – chief K Sivan

The In-Space board will also have members of the industry, academia and the government.

It will take six months for the system to take shape, but private companies can submit their applications to the Department of Space in the interim time.

“Private companies can directly apply to In-Space which will independently evaluate and process the application. Once In-Space gives the decisions, it will be binding on all stakeholders, either private people or ISRO,” Sivan said.

A new navigation policy is also being proposed and suitable changes in Remote Sensing Data Policy as well as SATCOM policy are also on the anvil. These changes are aimed at aligning these policies to an open and inclusive space sector, Sivan added.

The New Space India Limited (NSIL), a PSU under the Department of Space, will also play a role in this endeavour by re-orienting space activities from a ‘supply driven’ model to a ‘demand driven’ model, thereby ensuring optimum utilisation of space assets, he said.

“NSIL will be strengthened and empowered to off-load operational activities of ISRO in the areas of launch vehicle and satellite production, launch services as well as space based services. NSIL will execute these activities through industry consortiums,” he added.

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