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India Space Policy 2023

Context: The Indian Space Policy 2023 was recently approved by the Union Government.

What are Major Provisions of Indian Space Policy (ISP) 2023?

  • Delineation of Roles: ISP delineates responsibility to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), New Space India Limited, and Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe).
    • NSIL: Strategic activities related to the space sector will be carried out by NSIL in demand-driven mode.
      • NSIL is a wholly owned Government of India company, under the administrative control of Department of Space.
      • NSIL is the commercial arm of 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.
    • ISRO: It will focus its energies on developing new technologies, new systems and research and development.
    • INSPACe: This agency will be the interface between ISRO and non-governmental entities.
      • To facilitate private sector participation, the government has created the IN-SPACe, as a single-window, independent, nodal agency under Department of Space.
      •  Its main mandate is to promote and enhance the role of Non-Government Entities in the space sector by providing them with a level playing field.
  • Operational Missions: The operational part of ISRO’s missions will be moved to the New Space India Limited.
  • Private Sector Participation: ISP seeks to institutionalize the private sector participation in the space sector, with ISRO focusing on research and development of advanced space technologies.
    • ISP will allow the private sector to take part in end-to-end space activities that include building satellites, rockets and launch vehicles, data collection and dissemination.
  • Private Sector Infrastructure: ISP encourages the private sector to invest in creating new infrastructure for the sector and outlines the framework for the private sector to use ISRO facilities for a small charge.
  • Regulatory Framework& Research: The ISP also addresses the liability issue in case of any fallout or destruction of space assets. Since India is a party to the Outer Space Treaty, the Liability Convention, and the Registration Convention, the responsibility for any destruction or damage lies with the government.
    • ISP addresses the crucial issue of the control and access of the dual-use space technology.
    • ISP provides much clarity on the regulatory framework which concerns the diverse activities which range from remote sensing to deep-space exploration.
    • The policy also directs and provides the greater opportunity, more time and resources to focus on deep-space scientific and technological research.

Why the Inclusion of Private Sector in India’s Space Policy?

  • Lower participation of private players: Though private startups such as Agnikul Cosmos, Skyroot Aerospace, and Dhruva have launched their respective missions, India is still at a nascent stage in the private space race, well behind other nations.
    • Though the government has taken steps to boost private-sector participation in space, many companies have said the large number of approvals required remains a huge barrier.
  • Emerging Global Space Industry: The global space industry is worth over $500 billion, with the United States and China spending the most. India currently accounts for only 2% and the new space policy will help it increase substantially to 10% in the future.
  • Break the Monopoly of ISRO:  The space sector has remained within the confines of ISRO due to budgetary support from the government. By institutionalizing the private sector, the ISP breaks the monopoly ISRO-driven space sector.
  • Boost Investment by Private Sector: Allowing private companies to perform space missions has benefited nations such as the United States by promoting private sector investment.
  • Foster Innovation in Space Sector: ISP’s thrust on privatization will enable the space sector to be more innovative and sustainable. It is crucial if India wants to be competitive in global space ecosystems.
  • Boost Employment: Promoting the private sector will enable the Indian space program to remain cost competitive within the global space market, and thus create several jobs in the space and other related sectors.
  • Foster National Security: India needs to actively participate in the emergence of cutting- edge space technology, to ensure national security and aligned strategic interests.

What are Major Challenges Related to the Space Sector?

  • Dearth of Regulations on Commercialization: The commercialization of outer space is accelerating due to the development of private satellite expeditions. If no regulatory framework is put in place, rising commercialization may lead to monopolization in the future.
  • Global Conflict: One of the outer space’s most significant threats is its potential to become the next battlefield.
    • As more countries increase their presence in outer space, the strategic environment becomes increasingly congested, contested, and competitive.
  • Rising Space Debris: As outer space expeditions increase, more space debris will accumulate. Because objects orbit Earth at such high speeds, even a small piece of space debris can damage a spacecraft.

Way Forward

  • To fully unlock the potential of India’s youth and entrepreneurs, it is necessary to enable private entities within the Indian space sector to establish themselves as independent players capable of end-to-end space activities.
  • Many Indian private companies and start-ups have been showing keen interest in space activities, services, and applications, and are requesting a conducive policy environment for this.
  • Through the ISP, the Government aims to drive the overall growth of Indian commercial space activities by creating a regulatory environment in compliance with international law and by addressing the previous hurdles to the goal of encouraging the private sector.

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