South India’s first and the country’s fourth Regional Academy Centre for Space (RAC-S) by Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) was inaugurated at National Institute of Technology Karnataka(NITK), Surathkal, on 3 January 2020. In this context, Isro and NITK signed an MoU. It was signed by P V Venkitakrishnan, director, Capacity Building Programme Office (CBPO), Isro, and K Umamaheshwar Rao, director, NITK, Surathkal. The exclusive centre aims to pursue advanced research in the areas of relevance to the future technological and programme needs of the Indian space programme.
  1. The centre will act as facilitator for the promotion of space technology activities in southern region comprising Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala and Lakshadweep and become an ambassador for capacity building, awareness creation and R&D activities of Isro.
  2. The activities of RAC-S will be directed to maximize the use of research potential, infrastructure, expertise and experience that exists in ISRO and NITK. 
  3. The RAC-S will also facilitate and engage other institutes of excellence in the region to take part in capacity building, awareness creation and research and development activities related to space technology, space science and space applications.
  4. The RAC-S will consist of faculty members and researchers from NITK and visiting scientists and experts from ISRO. Activities will be guided by a joint policy and management committee (JPMC) consisting top executives from two organizations. 
  5. The JPMC will plan promotional activities including research programmes of common interest and periodically review such research programmes and related activities.
  6. JPMC will also facilitate collaborative activities between the partner institutions of southern states, while Isro will provide necessary annual grant to the tune of Rs 2 crore per year for the conduct of research and development projects, promotional activities and administrative expenses.
  7. The joint research and development activity will actively engage students of NITK and partner institutions. While BTech and MTech students will be engaged in carrying out short term research projects of one year duration, PhD students will be engaged in long term projects of 2-4 years relevant to the advancement of space programme. 
  8. Eligible students will also receive research fellowships during the project period. Isro and NITK will jointly own the intellectual property generated as part of this research activity.
  9. The other three RAC-S by Isro are located in MNIT Jaipur, Gauhati University and Kurukshetra University.
  10. The RAC-S setup at NITK, Surathkal, will receive an initial funding of Rs 2 crore. Venkitakrishnan said that Isro expects that collaboration with NITK will trigger interest for incubators on space technology.
  11. RAC-S will cover Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala and Puducherry. “Today Isro is venturing into new arenas like navigation systems, Gaganyaan and others. 
  12. It is essential to strengthen academic collaboration and also at the same time spread the footprints of space technology to different parts of the country.