The process initiated by the PMO to reform strategic sectors. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had, on May 16, announced that the government would make future projects for planetary exploration and outer space travel open for the private sector.
India’s space program is all set for privatization as the Space Commission has cleared a proposal to set up a National Space Activities Promotion Board.
A senior official in the department Organisation’s monopoly in the Indian space sector.
India has possibly taken its first big step in that direction with the central government setting up New Space India Limited (NSIL) earlier and now IN-SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre).
Both flow from the announcements made by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the fourth tranche of Rs 21 lakh crore special Covid-19 economic package.
NSIL has come up as an assisting body to the Isro to facilitate private participation in its programs. IN-SPACe will work on the mechanism for Isro’s engagement with industries and meet the demands of the private sector in space programmes.
The announcement of opening up of India’s space sector to private players does not mean that Isro did not have partnerships with private companies earlier. In fact, its engagement with private players began nearly 50 years ago during the time of Professor Satish Dhawan.
ISRO already has tie-ups with around 150 private companies. To put in perspective, the Nasa engages with more than 375 space companies.
Isro chief K Sivan on Thursday said that the Government of India has decided to open up the space sector to private enterprises that will put India in a new league.
Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chief K Sivan said, “Department of Space will promote sector space activities to enable it to provide end to end space services, including building and launching of rockets and satellites as well as providing space-based services on a commercial basis.”
“Space sector, where India is among a handful of countries with advanced space technology, can play a significant role in boosting the industrial base of India. The government has decided to implement reformed measures to leverage Isro’s achievement by opening space sector for private enterprises,” said Sivan.
He further added, “As part of longer socio-economic reform, space reforms will improve access to space-based services for India’s development. Far-reaching reforms will put India in a league of few countries with efficient promotional and authorization mechanism for private-sector space activities.”
The newly-created Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) will provide a level playing field for private companies to use Indian space infrastructure, Singh, who is the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, said.
The Indian space agency has only publicly acknowledged the private sector via “Announcements of Opportunities” for various space missions over the years.
The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) will take “decisions to regulate and permit activities in the space sector. It will have its own directorates for security, legal, promotion (of activities) and monitoring purposes,” said Sivan in a live-streamed briefing.
“It will act as a national nodal agency for hand-holding and promoting private sector in space endeavours”, with Board members consisting of people across industry, academia and government.
New Space India Limited
New Space India Limited (NSIL), up until recently, was a commercial subsidiary of ISRO – the second such commercial arm after Antrix Corporation.
The role of NSIL will involve technology transfer of its small satellite manufacturing, as well as the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) and Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), to the private sector. NSIL will also handle future tech transfer activities on ISRO’s behalf.
NSIL has been recalibrated to transform its approach from a “supply-driven” to a “demand-driven” model, the chief said. NSIL will soon take over a large chunk of ISRO’s responsibilities – operational launch vehicles, satellites, and commercial activities – which will be executed in the form of industry consortiums.
The Chairman also claimed that ISRO’s activities will not be reduced and ISRO will also comply with any private sector support than INSPACe mandates.