Title : SPACE INDUSTRY IN INDIA
Date : Feb 26, 2022
Based on a News Article published in the ‘The Hindu’
Useful for UPSC CSE Prelims and Mains (GS Paper III)
- India has one of the most advanced space programs in the world. It boasts a long list of achievements thanks to its state-owned agency, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The launch of Brazil's Amazonia-1 satellite from Sriharikota last week adds another feather to the crown.
Regarding the most recent mission:
- Brazil's Amazonia-1 (an earth observation satellite) and 18 co-passenger satellites were launched by ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C51) rocket.
- It was the commercial arm of ISRO, New Space India Ltd (NSIL)first ,'s dedicated mission.
- The mission was carried out under a commercial agreement with Spaceflight Inc. in the United States.
- India's space industry has evolved at a breakneck pace over the last six decades, with significant expansion in scope and domain.
- It has evolved from simple mapping services in the 1960s to a wide range of services today:
Launch vehicle design and development:
- Satellites and related technologies for earth observation, telecommunications, and broadband are being developed.
- Entering the navigation, meteorology, and space science domains
- R&D in the field of space sciences:
- Most recently, MOM has been involved in planetary exploration (Mars Orbiter Mission)
- Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and other noteworthy figures are responsible for the sector's success. They all believed in India's space sector's promise.
- In 2019-20, the nation spent roughly $1.8 billion on space programs.
- In recent years, the country has launched an average of 5-7 satellites every year, whereas the US has launched roughly 19 satellites. China, likewise, deploys around 34 satellites.
Initiatives in the Space Industry in India:
- The Space Sector Is Now Open: In June 2020, the government announced that the space sector would be open for business. It permitted the Indian private sector to participate in all aspects of space activities. This includes satellite development, launches, and access to space-based services that were previously unavailable to them.
- 2017 Draft Space Activities Bill: The bill's goal is to promote and govern India's space operations. It focuses on fostering private-sector participation under the direction and approval of the government through the Department of Space.
- NSIL (New Space India Limited): It was founded in 2019 as a Central Public Sector Enterprise under the Department of Space. Its mission is to market space-related products and services developed by India's space program to international clients. It will allow India's industry to develop a high-tech manufacturing base.
- IN-SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre): It was founded with the goal of fostering space-related enterprises and attracting private investment.
- ISRO and its research centers have active training and collaboration programs with academic and research institutes around the country. They also train professionals from a variety of countries throughout the world.
India's Space Sector Possibilities:
- Low Cost:
- India's space sector has the ability to launch spacecraft at a far reduced cost. This was demonstrated by the Mars Orbiter Mission, which was ten times less expensive than comparable western efforts.
- Good track record and reputation: India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle platform has successfully launched 342 foreign satellites for 34 countries. In other countries, this has helped to build trust in India's space potential.
- Existence of Aspiring Entrepreneurs:
- According to industry estimates, India has over 40 start-ups working on space and satellite projects. It has the potential to support the government's efforts.
- Future Demand: As technology advances, the demand for larger bandwidth capacity, throughput speeds, enhanced radar, and thermal imaging will increase. Strengthening the space sector is a simple way to do this.
- Unrealized Potential: According to the Satellite Industry Association Report (2020), the global space industry was worth $366 billion in 2019. The Indian space economy, on the other hand, is valued at US$ 7 billion, or about 2% of GDP, indicating how much the sector can genuinely achieve.
India's Space Sector Faces Challenges:
- Lower Spending: In comparison to other countries, the funding allocated to the space sector are quite low. In 2019-20, the US spent ten times more on space than India, while China spent six times more.
- Absence of a Clear Legislative Framework: A draft bill on Space Activities was proposed in 2017, however it has yet to be passed.
- Lack of a strong Dispute Resolution Mechanism: This deters private investment in space. Antrix - Devas' satellite deal was canceled, leaving a vacuum. According to an order of an International Chamber of Commerce tribunal, the Indian government owes Devas Multimedia almost $1.2 billion.
- Exodus of Minds: India has the top brains in the world, but it can't keep them. People emigrate from the country in search of better prospects and employment, which could stymie the space sector's progress.
- Managing large constellations of satellites: While India has a lot of potential for satellite launches, managing a large number of satellites in space could be difficult in the future. This should be done with the possibility of a future space conflict in mind.
- The initiative to establish an independent tribunal to arbitrate conflicts between private space organizations should be put into action as soon as possible.
- The approval of the Space Activities Bill is also necessary in order to provide better clarity and protection to private actors. This should include thorough consultation and discussion with all interested parties.
- The emphasis should be on assisting space start-ups in reaching out to rural India and encouraging young people to pursue professions in space applications and sciences.
- NSIL should be more than a sales representative for ISRO's technologies. It should seek out new business prospects and expand the industry as a whole.
- Given the great future potential and strong returns on investment, the country should likewise increase funding in this industry.
- The government has to work more closely with pioneering countries like the United States, Russia, and others who are already managing large constellations of satellites.
- Furthermore, efforts such as Mission Shakti (a test of an anti-satellite weapon) can aid in the prevention of future space warfare.
- The Indian space sector has enormous untapped potential that can be exploited if the government takes appropriate policy steps.
- This would increase private sector confidence and yield optimal outcomes, allowing the country to rise to the top of the global space industry.
Tags : ISRO, space industry