Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] IN-SPACe: Future of space exploration

Government has recently announced a new organisation, IN-SPACe as part of reforms to increase private participation in the space sector.
By IASToppers
June 27, 2020

Contents

  • Introduction
  • Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre
  • Need for the move
  • Why private participants?
  • How ISRO gains?
  • New Space India Limited
  • Conclusion

IN-SPACe: Future of space exploration

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Introduction:

The government has recently approved the creation of Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre to ensure greater private participation in India’s space activities. The decision is a part of an important set of reforms to open up the space sector and make space-based applications and services more widely accessible to everyone.

Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre:

  • The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) is expected to be functional within six months.
  • It will assess the needs and demands of private players, including educational and research institutions, and, explore ways to accommodate these requirements in consultation with ISRO.
  • IN-SPACe will help private players through encouraging policies and a guiding regulatory environment in space activities.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation will remain the basic body that decides what missions are to be undertaken but this new body will help fill the gaps.
  • Existing ISRO infrastructure, both ground- and space-based, scientific and technical resources, and even data are planned to be made accessible to interested parties to enable them to carry out their space-related activities.

Need for the move:

  • Indian industry has a barely 3% share in a rapidly growing global space economy, which is worth around $365 billion.
  • Only two per cent of this market is for rocket and satellite launch services, which require fairly large infrastructure and heavy investment.
  • The remaining 95 per cent is related to satellite-based services, and ground-based systems.
  • Indian industry is unable to compete because till now its role has been mainly that of suppliers of components and sub-systems.
  • Indian industries do not have the resources or the technology to undertake independent space projects of the kind that US companies such as SpaceX or provide space-based services.
  • 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 now cuts across sectors, from weather to agriculture to transport to urban development and more.
  • ISRO would have to be expanded 10 times the current level to meet all the arising demand.

Why private participants?

  • There is already some private industry involvement in India’s space sector.
  • A large part of manufacturing and fabrication of rockets and satellites now happens in the private sector.
  • There is increasing participation of research institutions as well.
  • At the same time, several Indian companies were waiting to make use of these opportunities.
  • There are a few companies that are in the process of developing their launch vehicles, the rockets like ISRO’s PSLV that carry the satellites and other payloads into space.
  • ISRO is ready to provide all its facilities to private players whose projects had been approved by IN-SPACe.
  • Private companies can even build their Launchpad within the Sriharikota launch station, and ISRO would provide the necessary land for that.
  • IN-SPACe is supposed to be a facilitator, and also a regulator.
  • It will act as an interface between ISRO and private parties and assess the best way to utilize India’s space resources and increase space-based activities.

How ISRO gains?

  • The enhanced private involvement in the space sector seems important because of two reasons:  Commercial and strategic.
  • The move will ensure greater dissemination of space technologies, better utilisation of space resources, and increased requirement of space-based services which ISRO seems unable to satisfy on its own.
  • The private industry will also free up ISRO to concentrate on science, research and development, interplanetary exploration and strategic launches.
  • ISRO, like NASA, is essentially a scientific organisation whose main objective is the exploration of space and carrying out scientific missions.
  • There are several ambitious space missions lined up in the coming years, including a mission to observe the Sun, a mission to the Moon, a human spaceflight, and then, possibly, a human landing on the Moon.
  • The space-based economy is expected to explode in the next few years, even in India, and there would be more than enough revenue for both ISRO and private companies.
  • Further, ISRO can earn additional money by making its facilities and data available to private players.

New Space India Limited:

  • IN-SPACe is the second space organisation created by the government in the last two years.
  • In the 2019 Budget, the government had announced the setting up of a New Space India Limited (NSIL), a public sector company that would serve as a marketing arm of ISRO.
  • Its main purpose is to market the technologies developed by ISRO and bring it more clients that need space-based services.
  • That role was already being performed by Antrix Corporation, another PSU working under the Department of Space, and which still exists.
  • An answer to the question that why there was a need for another organisation with overlapping function, the government said that it was redefining the role of NSIL so that it would have a demand-driven approach rather than the current supply-driven strategy.
  • It means that instead of just marketing what ISRO has to offer, NSIL would listen to the needs of the clients and ask ISRO to fulfil those.

Conclusion:

The Space sector can play a major catalytic role in the technological advancement and expansion of our Industrial base. There is no reason why ISRO alone should be launching weather or communication satellites. The move will allow ISRO to focus more on research and development activities, new technologies, exploration missions and human spaceflight programme.

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