Science & Technology

India opens up space sector to private players

New Delhi, June 25 (efe-epa).- India will allow private companies in its space and planetary exploration programs, the country’s space agency head said on Thursday.

Until now, the government-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had a total monopoly in the country’s space sector, known as one of the advanced in the world.

“(The) Department of Space will promote sector space activities to enable it to provide end to end space services, including building and launching of rockets and satellites as well as providing space-based services on a commercial basis,” ISRO chairman K. Sivan said.

“Space sector, where India is among a handful of countries with advanced space technology, can play a significant role in boosting industrial base of India,” Sivan said in a video message, a day after the government approved the reform measure to boost private sector participation in space activities.

An official statement issued Wednesday said the “far-reaching reforms in the space sector” would result in accelerated growth of the sector and enable the Indian industry to be an important player in the global space economy.

“With this, there is an opportunity for large-scale employment in the technology sector and India becoming a global technology powerhouse,” the statement said.

The reform is also expected to enhance the socio-economic use of space assets and activities, including improved access to space assets, data, and facilities.

The government has also created an agency, Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe), to help private companies use Indian space infrastructure.

The agency will “also hand-hold, promote and guide the private industries in space activities through encouraging policies and a friendly regulatory environment,” said the government statement.

The government also set up a public enterprise, New Space India Limited (NSIL), that would “re-orient space activities from a ‘supply-driven’ model to a ‘demand-driven’ model, thereby ensuring optimum utilization of space assets.”

The reform measures come almost a year after the failure of the space agency’s ambitious unmanned lunar mission “Chandrayaan-2”, causing huge disappointment in the country.

Apparently seeking to clarify that the new reforms were not to undermine the state-run space agency, the government said these measures would “allow ISRO to focus more on research and development activities, new technologies, exploration missions and human spaceflight program.”

However, some of the planetary exploration missions would also be opened up to the private sector through an “announcement of opportunity” mechanism, the government said.

In his video message, Sivan said the government move was aimed at “to implement reformed measures to leverage ISRO’s achievement by opening space sector for private enterprises”.

“As part of longer socio-economic reform, space reforms will improve access to space-based services for India’s development. (The) far-reaching reforms will put India in the league of few countries with efficient promotional and authorization mechanism for private-sector space activities.”

Chandrayaan-2 It was India’s second lunar mission after Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 that did not land on the moon but used radars to carry out a detailed search for water on the satellite.

The agency space in January this year announced its third lunar mission, called Chandrayaan-3, and also declared its plan to send an interactive humanoid robot into space to be launched later this year. EFE-EPA

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