Govt allows entry of private players in future planetary, outer space projects | India News

NEW DELHI: Bringing a paradigm shift in the space sector that till now had a government monopoly, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday announced the entry of the private sector in the country’s future inter-planetary and outer space explorations and allowed private companies to access the facilities and services of Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro).
While announcing structural reforms for the eight crucial sectors, the FM said, “India has the benefit of an extraordinary space institution such as Isro, which has brought the nation a lot of laurels. However today, the private sector is also doing a lot of work in the space arena. A lot of individuals and startups have spent a lot of time developing space-related technologies. Unfortunately, because of Indian regulations, they are unable to use Isro facilities for even testing their products. To provide a level-playing field in satellite launches and space-based services, we will make a provision for the private sector to benefit from the assets which are available to Isro and for India (in general) to benefit from it.”
Sitharaman said, “We will also provide a predictable policy and regulatory environment to private players. We want them to be co-travellers with us. Therefore, the private sector is being encouraged.”
In another big development, the FM announced that “future projects like planetary explorations and outer space travel (like future Chandrayaan, Venus and Aditya missions) will be opened for the private sector. So, the private sector is being given a good access to the space arena so the industry and Isro can work together for a better “Atmanirbhar (self-reliant) Bharat”.
In another boost to space startups, the government is working on a liberal geospatial data. “There is a lot of geospatial data related to irrigation, drought and groundwater. But these startups working in these fields have to get that geospatial data from abroad and have to pay through their nose to get India-specific data. Therefore we want to provide benefit and advantage to Indian startups, which are doing a pioneering work, access to remote sensing data but, of course, with a lot of caution as it’s a sensitive area.”
Reacting to the FM’s announcement, Isro issued a statement, “Department of Space will follow government guidelines and enable private players to carry out space activities in the country.”
In the last 3-4 years, Isro had gradually started involving the private sector in the development of satellites and rockets. In July 2018, Isro had signed a big contract with three industries — two private companies and one government-run firm — to build 27 satellites in three years. Last year, L&T and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd had signed an MoU to manufacture industry-made PSLV rocket.
However, Saturday’s announcement will usher in a new era where private companies in the country would be able to shoulder bigger responsibilities in the space arena. The Department of Space had recently set up a new company, NewSpace India Limited, to bridge the gap between Isro and the private sector and facilitate transfer of Isro technologies to the industry. With today’s announcement, the work of NSIL will only increase in near future.
In the US, private sector companies like Elon Musk-run SpaceX and Jeff Bezos-led Blue Origin are playing a dominant role in the space sector. In fact, SpaceX is providing space shuttle services to Nasa astronauts. Space X, Blue Origin and other private companies are also participating in Nasa’s Artemis manned lunar mission programme, scheduled to be launched by 2024.
With the radical change in the Modi government’s space policy, days are not far when desi companies will also play a key role in Indian space and planetary programmes.
Watch Govt allows more private sector participation in space infrastructure

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