Indian Space Policy 2023 Paving the Way for Increased Private Sector Participation in the Domain

After clearance by the Union Cabinet on April 6, the details of India’s much-awaited Space Policy 2023 finally arrived last week. The comprehensive Policy document paves the way for large customers of space technology and services to directly purchase from public and private sources.

Space Policy Overview: Aiming for the Stars

The Indian Space Policy 2023 was announced by the Government of India subsequent to several reforms in the space domain in preceding years. The Government has been focusing on enhancing the participation of non-governmental entities (NGEs) in carrying out end-to-end activities in the domain and giving them a level-playing field.

The Policy document now adds a layer of regulatory certainty to space activities towards the end goal of a thriving space ecosystem in the country. The overarching, composite, and dynamic framework laid down by the Policy is targeted at building a flourishing commercial presence in the Indian space sector.

At the same time, the Policy envisions the use of Space as a driver of technology development for India’s “socioeconomic development and security, protection of environment and lives, pursuing peaceful exploration of outer space, stimulation of public awareness and scientific quest.”

Strategic Focus Points of the Government

The crux of the Indian Space Policy 2023 is promoting greater private sector participation in the entire space economy value chain. Indian customers of space technology and services like communication, remote sensing, data and launch services, etc. will now be able to procure these technologies and services directly from public and private sources.

The Policy document lays down some strategic focus areas for this vision.

Boost to Non-Governmental Entities

The Policy seeks to liberate the private sector by eliminating earlier restrictions on the participation of non-government entities in the Space Sector across domains. NGEs are free to establish and operate space objects, ground-based assets, and related services like communication, remote sensing, navigation, etc. subject to the guidelines and regulations prescribed by the IN-SPACe.

Owning, Procuring, and Leasing Satellites: NGEs can now own, procure, and lease GSO/NGSO communication satellites and remote sensing satellite systems to offer national and international space-based services.

Administrative Constraints Removed: They may also establish and operate ground facilities for space objects operations, use Indian and/or non-Indian Orbital Resources, and make new ITU filings through Indian and non-Indian administrations.

Data Dissemination and Use: NGEs will have full freedom to disseminate satellite-based remote sensing data and applications within the country and outside. They can develop and commercialize technologies and applications to enhance and augment space tech and services provided by the Government. This will boost further innovations and development using fundamental data as a base.

Manufacturing and Operations: NGEs are free to manufacture and operate space transportation systems such as launch vehicles, shuttles, etc., design and develop reusable, recoverable, and reconfigurable technologies and systems, and establish and operate launch infrastructure for space transportation.

Space-Related Innovation: The Policy empowers NGEs to develop space situational awareness capabilities for improved observation, modelling, and analysis. It also encourages the undertaking of research, innovation, and technology development focused on long-term, sustainable space activities.

Space Operations: As per the Policy, NGEs will now also be able to provide end-to-end services for safe operations and maintenance in space. They can also engage in the commercial recovery of asteroids or other space resources and will have the liberty to possess, own, transport, use, and sell such resources according to = applicable laws and international obligations.

Institutional Frameworks

The Role of IN-SPACe as a Handholding Organization

The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe), headquartered at the Department of Space, Government of India, acts as an autonomous, single-window, independent nodal agency to enable and facilitate the participation of private sector players in the space domain.

The Indian Space Policy 2023 clearly outlines the role of IN-SPACe going forward, mandating it to promote, handhold, guide, and authorize space activities in the country through a number of activities.

The Role of ISRO Centred on Research & Development

 ISRO’s main focus, as per the Policy, will be towards supporting research, development, and innovation in the sector along the following lines:

The Role of NSIL as the Public Sector Undertaking under DoS

New Space India Limited will be responsible for commercializing space technology and platforms created using public funds. It will look after manufacturing, leasing, and procurement of space components, technologies, platforms, and other assets from public and private sectors on sound commercial principles. It will also serve the space-based needs of users, whether Government or non-Government entities, along the same lines.

The Role of the Department of Space as the Nodal Department

The Association of Geospatial Industries (AGI) welcomes the announcement of India’s Space Policy 2023 and the elimination of all restrictions for the participation of non-government entities across domains: building, owning, launching, operating, and delivering rockets and satellites to deliver commercial services. Space is a capital-intensive sector, therefore, closer cooperation and involvement between the private sector’s capabilities and ISRO’s existing technologies, as outlined in the Policy, is a much-needed step toward the sector’s ambitious goals.

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