Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 07 August 2023

Satellite bus technology transfer to private firm

GS Paper- 3 (Space Technology)

ISRO said it has transferred the IMS-1 Satellite Bus Technology to Alpha Design Technologies Pvt. Ltd in a step towards enhancing private industry participation in the country's space sector. NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of ISRO, facilitated the technology transfer through an agreement signed during an event held at the NSIL headquarters 2, the space agency said.

More about the News

  • The technology transfer documents were formally handed over by D Radhakrishnan, Chairman and Managing Director of NSIL to Col. H S Shankar (Retd.), Chairman and Managing Director of ADTL.
  • ADTL is one of the two private players identified to receive the transfer of this technology through Interest Exploratory Note (IEN) published by NSIL.
  • This transfer marks the beginning of satellite bus technologies developed by ISRO being transferred to private industries. Further, the PSLV is under productionisation by a consortium of industries.
  • ISRO has been enabling private players to develop space technologies by facilitating and extending the expertise thus ensuring both out-bound and in-bound approaches.
  • By transferring the IMS-1 technology to the private sector, ISRO/DoS (Department of Space) aims to bolster India's industrial growth in the space sector and foster technological self-reliance, it further said, adding the development opens up new avenues for private players to contribute to space research and exploration, in line with India's vision to expand its presence in the global space market.

About Satellite bus

  • The satellite bus, developed by ISRO's U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), is a versatile and efficient small satellite platform designed to facilitate low-cost access to space.
  • The bus serves as a dedicated vehicle for various payloads, enabling earth imagingocean and atmospheric studiesmicrowave remote sensing, and space science missions while ensuring a quick turnaround time for satellite launches.
  • The IMS-1 bus, weighing about 100 kg, accommodates a 30kg payloadSolar arrays generate 330W power with a raw bus voltage of 30-42 V, ISRO said, adding it offers a 3-axis stabilised with four reaction wheels with a 1 Newton thruster that provides +/- 0.1 degree pointing accuracy.
  • It is a forerunner for IMS-2 bus technology, capable of improved features, and IMS-1 bus is utilised in previous ISRO missions like IMS-1Youthsat and Microsat-2D.

About ADTL

  • Alpha Design Technologies Pvt. Ltd (ADTL) is an aerospace and defence company, with expertise in engineering, manufacturing, and system integration.
  • It has been a key player in various projects related to defence, space and homeland security, contributing significantly to India's technological progress in these domains.


Offshore mining and mineral auctions

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

In a significant step toward exploiting India's offshore resources, the Council of States passed the Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill (OAMDR), 2023. The Bill represents a transformative change for the offshore mining sector, which has remained largely inactive since the enactment of the OAMDR Act in 2002.

More about the Bill

  • It aims to increase transparency in the allocation of minerals found in the country's offshore basins, permitting the granting of production leases exclusively through auctions and reserving some allocations for government entities and public sector units (PSUs).
  • The passage of the Bill marks a historic milestone, unlocking India's vast mineral-rich offshore areas.
  • This move promises strategic benefits, strengthening the nation's territorial waters, which have been frequently threatened by neighboring countries.
  • The extraction of minerals from these areas is expected to bolster India's strategic position further.

Auctions as primary means

  • The Bill stipulates a fixed 50-year production lease for offshore minerals. Under this new legislation, the government plans to introduce auctions as the primary means to award production leases for offshore minerals.
  • The amendment enables the granting of production leases to the private sector solely through competitive bidding auctions.
  • Under the composite licensing system, explorers will also have the right to develop and mine minerals under a single license.
  • The Bill introduces a four-year timeline for the start of production and dispatch following the execution of a composite license or production lease.
  • It also establishes a two-year timeline (extendable by one year) for the resumption of production and dispatch after a discontinuation.


Draft National Deep Tech Startup Policy

GS Paper - 3 (Economy)

The office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government put out a draft National Deep Tech Startup Policy (NDTSP) for public comment, following two versions that were iterated at high levels with other government departments, academia and stakeholder firms. The policy seeks to “ensure India’s position in the global deep tech value chain,” in areas such as semiconductorsArtificial Intelligence (AI) and space tech.

More about the Policy

  • The policy seeks to bolster research and development in deep tech start-ups, which work on fundamental and technical problems, unlike firms that monetise technology with distinguished business models.
  • The policy also seeks to find approaches to provide financing to deep tech start-ups at critical moments, such as before they go to market with their products or ideas.
  • Additionally, the policy seeks to simplify the intellectual property regime for such start-ups, ease regulatory requirements, and proposes a slew of measures to promote these firms.
  • For instance, the NDTSP suggests that an Export Promotion Board be created to ease barriers of entry for Indian deep tech start-ups into foreign markets and those clauses to ease such market access be included in foreign trade agreements.
  • The policy also includes resource-intensive policy approaches to attract global talent, such as offering “networking opportunities to international deep tech startups and experts interested in relocating and contributing to the local ecosystem.
  • Since expertise and regulatory overview of different aspects of deep tech and its supply chains are under different Ministries, the policy suggests the creation of an “Inter Ministerial Deep Tech Committee” to regularly review the requirements of enabling the deep tech ecosystem to function better.

International agreement

  • The policy restates the government’s disappointment with international agreements that it argues have left India on the backfoot in terms of manufacturing and development power.
  • India’s experience with some aspects of international cooperation has had a deleterious effect on the domestic ecosystem. A key example of this is the Information Technology Agreement-I that India joined in 1997.
  • The policy calls for a more multi-pronged approach to protect Indian interests. The need of the hour is a coordinated, comprehensive push to optimally engage with international partners and multilateral institutions to push the Indian Deep Tech Ecosystem, the policy says.

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