The global space economy is currently valued at USD 360 billion, with India accounting for only 2% of its share. The past couple of decades have witnessed an increased interest by other nations to promote private sector participation. However, the role of Indian private players has been restricted to a supplementary role to further the activities of government agencies. Therefore, to clarify the scope for Non-Governmental Entities (NGEs) in the Indian space programme and boost India’s market share in global space economy, the Indian Space Policy 2023 (“Policy”) was approved by the Indian Government on April 6, 2023. The Policy aims to allow the advent of private sector participation in the value chain of the space sector in India and elucidate the role of different stakeholders.
Salient Features of the Policy
The Policy aims to regulate the space activities by different stakeholders and demarcate their roles and responsibilities to streamline the reforms in the country’s space sector. It also aims to encourage the participation of private players in the value chain of the space economy, utilise space as a key driver for technological development, and foster international relations.
Roles of Key Stakeholders
The Policy outlines the following functions of different stakeholders such as the ISRO, New Space India Limited (NSIL), Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), Department of Space (DOS), non-governmental, private, and other entities (NGE) towards the collective achievement of its objectives.
Non-Government Entities (NGEs)
The Policy defines NGEs as any company incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013; or a partnership firm established under the Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008; any Trust registered under the Indian Trusts Act 1882, or any association of persons or body of individuals incorporated under relevant statutes in India.
The Policy allows NGEs to commence all activities in the space sector such as communication, remote sensing, navigation, etc., by establishing and operating space objects, ground-based assets, and related services. However, the IN-SPACe may prescribe necessary guidelines or regulations to monitor such activities by the NGEs.
NGEs are further encouraged to offer national and international space-based communication services; set up and operate ground facilities for space objects operations; utilise Indian and non-Indian orbital resources to set up space objects for communication services over and outside India; distribute satellite-based remote sensing data; manufacture and operate space transportation systems; set up and operate launch infrastructure; develop space situational awareness capabilities for enhancing observation, modelling, and analysis; undertake research and development for the sustainability of space activities, and undertake any other IN-SPACe prescribed commercial space activity.
Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe)
The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe) is an independent, single-window nodal agency that serves as an autonomous agency in the Department of Space (DOS). IN-SPACe was set up with a vision to promote the participation of private players in space activities and serve as a catalyst between ISRO and NGEs. It has also been empowered to issue necessary guidelines and procedures to promote ease of doing business in the space sector.
Some of the primary roles and responsibilities of IN-SPACe under the Policy are as follows:
- To serve as a single-window agency to authorise space activities undertaken by the Government and NGEs.
- To promote industry clusters, zones, manufacturing hubs, incubation centres, accelerators, and technical centres for emerging activities in the space sector.
- To liaise with the national and international space sector for the promotion of space activities.
- To formulate promotional schemes for entities in the space sector.
- To lay down requisite frameworks for the development of space industry standards at par with international paradigms.
- To create an equalised space for government entities and NGEs and prioritise the use of necessary facilities developed using public expenditure.
- To bolster the creation of specialised technical facilities by NGEs within the premises of DOS.
- To facilitate and incentivise authorised NGEs that acquire new orbital resources through Indian or Non-Indian ITU filings.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
As the National Space Agency of the country, the primary role of ISRO will be to focus on the R&D activities in new space technologies and applications and magnify the human knowledge of outer space. The Agency will also be responsible for sharing necessary technologies, products, processes, and practices with government entities and NGEs; nurturing alliances with national and international space industry and academia and designing relevant collaborative framework for scientific research in multidisciplinary domains linked to human space activities.
New Space India Limited (NSIL)
The NSIL is the commercial division of ISRO, with its administrative control with the Department of Space (DOS). The core responsibilities of NSIL are to enable Indian industries to undertake high technology space-related functions, along with the promotion and commercial utilisation of assets that stem from different Indian space activities.
Under the Policy, the NSIL has been assigned the responsibility of commercialising space technologies and platforms that are developed through public expenditure; manufacturing, leasing, or procuring space components, technologies, platforms and other assets from public and private sectors; and addressing the space-related requirements of government entities and NGEs.
Department of Space (DOS)
Established in 1972, the Department of Space (DOS) has the primary function of promoting the development and application of space science and technology. Under the Indian Space Policy, the DOS will be responsible for supervising the responsibilities assigned under the Policy to different stakeholders; serving as a nodal department for the enforcement of the Policy; ensuring the availability of data; participating in global initiatives; coordinating with international and national agencies; setting up necessary frameworks for safe and sustainable space activities; establishing requisite mechanisms for dispute resolution, etc.
The Indian Space Policy serves as one of the many endeavours undertaken by the Indian Government towards bolstering the Indian space sector and ushering in more participation from private players. The Policy lays down a dynamic framework that aims towards meeting the different requirements of private entities and synchronising the efforts of different bodies such as the In-SPACe, ISRO and NSIL. The Policy will play a critical role in propelling India’s participation in the global space economy and invite more innovation and participation of startups and other private entities in the country’s space sector that holds mammoth unexplored potential.