Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre
The Centre has created an Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) to provide private players to use Indian space infrastructure.
• The space research activities were initiated in India during the early 1960’s. Dr.Vikram Sarabhai was the founding father of Indian space programme.
• As a first step, the Department of Atomic Energy formed the INCOSPAR (Indian National Committee for Space Research) under the leadership of Dr. Sarabhai and Dr.Ramanathan in 1962. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was later formed in August 1969.
• The prime objective of ISRO is to develop space technology and its application to various national needs.
• ISRO is one of the six largest space agencies in the world. The Department of Space (DOS) and the Space Commission were set up in 1972 and ISRO was brought under DOS on June 1972.
• Since inception, the Indian space programme has been orchestrated well and had three distinct elements such as, satellites for communication and remote sensing, the space transportation system and application programmes.
• Two major operational systems have been established – the Indian National Satellite (INSAT) for telecommunication, television broadcasting, and meteorological services and the Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS) for monitoring and management of natural resources and Disaster Management Support.
• ISRO took the Indian space programme to new height with a successful low cost MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission).
IN-SPACe’s outlook for now appears to be that of a ‘regulator’ functioning as an independent body under the Department of Space.
Upstream space activities involve the use of communication frequencies, selling potentially dual-use products (both locally and internationally), and setting up devices to link space and ground assets. Further downstream, important activities include distributing images and other imagery-based services and communication-based services.
Both sets of activities require consultations with, inspections from and approvals by several government departments and ministries. So, IN-SPACe will solve an important problem if it includes members representing all the relevant departments and ministries that may wish to participate in regulating space activities.
The requirements of companies involved in upstream activities are often different from those involved in downstream activities. So, IN-SPACe needs to steer clear of a ‘one size fits all’ approach to dealing with them.
IN-SPACe should strongly consider additional roles to fill gaps in India’s space activities ecosystem to benefit Indian space products’ and services’ competitiveness. The body could do this with directorates that monitor the competitiveness of the local industry and find ways to improve it.
Apart from IN-SPACe’s regulatory role, it should review the current demand and supply mechanisms to streamline procurement, taxation and investment-related matters. For example, it could review space products and services that foreign vendors are currently procuring and list them, together with local companies in the process of creating capacity to match the offering.
Such initiatives can help catalyse the growth as well as competitiveness of India’s local industry. The body can then install a mechanism to systematically support local development as well, to further localise these capabilities within India.
IN-SPACe could also review, and resolve, other important bottlenecks. For example, local companies that wish to have a payload launched onboard ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket need to pay 18% GST but foreign companies don’t. That is, IN-SPACe’s offerings for India’s private space sector should include incentives as well as a level playing field.
If IN-SPACEe does a good job, the government may not need to go through the long process of legislating a Space Bill, as it has been doing for at least three years now.
IN-SPACe will be an independent body under Department of space. Space sector can play a major catalytic role in the technological advancement and expansion of our Industrial base. The proposed reforms will enhance the socio-economic use of space assets and activities, including through improved access to space assets, data and facilities.
The newly created Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) will provide a level playing field for private companies to use Indian space infrastructure. It will also hand-hold, promote and guide the private industries in space activities through encouraging policies and a friendly regulatory environment.
The Public Sector Enterprise ‘New Space India Limited (NSIL)’ will endeavour to re-orient space activities from a ‘supply driven’ model to a ‘demand driven’ model, thereby ensuring optimum utilization of our space assets.
These reforms will allow ISRO to focus more on research and development activities, new technologies, exploration missions and human spaceflight programme. Some of the planetary exploration missions will also be opened up to private sector through an ‘announcement of opportunity’ mechanism.
India is among a handful of countries with advanced capabilities in the space exploration. With these reforms, the sector will receive new energy and dynamism, to help the country leapfrog to the next stages of space activities. This will not only result in the accelerated growth but will enable Indian Industry to be an important player in space economy. There is an opportunity for large-scale employment in the space technology.
PEPPER IT WITH
ISRO, India Space Programme, Department of Space