India’s Private Firms to Get Much Bigger Space

Under the new Spacecom Policy-2020 drafted by the Department of Space, Government of India, private companies in the country can develop new systems related to space, launch satellites and sell services to foreign clients.

In a landmark move, India’s Department of Space (DoS) has decided to allow private companies in the country to develop new systems, launch satellites and sell services to foreign customers under its Spacecom Policy-2020.  “DoS and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), in their efforts to achieve end-to-end capabilities, have nurtured Indian industry to be partners in supplies and services while realizing launch vehicles and satellites. In this endeavour, Indian industry has acquired skillset and capability to realize the sub-systems and satellite systems meeting the stringent specifications and reliability,” says the draft policy.

Under the Spacecom Policy-2020, which will replace the existing Satcom Policy, Indian industries can also utilize the existing space assets for communication services.  Henceforth, private Indian companies can establish control centres outside the country and use overseas space assets. They can establish satellite systems through satellites built on their own or procured. In addition, telemetry, tracking & command (TT&C) earth stations and satellite control centres (SCC) can be established in or outside India. This capacity could be offered to commercial and societal communications within as well as outside the country. The systems and solutions developed by private firms can also be offered to international markets.

Indian orbital resources can be availed from designated PSU/CPSEs under DoS on commercial basis subject to availability. The authorized Indian entities can directly offer their capacities to customers.

“The demand for bandwidth is increasing substantially from ongoing services as well as emerging applications. With the advancements in technology, space-based communications are becoming efficient and affordable. The non-government private entities can play a big role in addressing the growing demand within India and also use the opportunity to be important players in the international space communications market,” elaborates the draft policy.

“It is an opportune time to enable commercial communication activities to be carried out by non-governmental Indian entities to not only meet Indian requirements but also enable them to become significant players in the global space communication arena. Government of India seeks a greater participation of Indian Industry to meet the demands in activities of realizing, owning, operating satellite systems for communications over India and outside, creating facilities for satellite control operations and so on,” the draft policy adds.

According to K Sivan, Secretary, DoS, the new policy will have everything the Satcom Policy has in terms of protection of India’s assets, creation of new assets, monitoring and operations. “The major changes are related to encouraging the private sector and renewing focus on enhancing national security capabilities,” he said.

Sivan said that this was only the first step and that specific policies on launch vehicles, navigation, remote sensing, space exploration, human spaceflight and a national space policy would be released soon. He opined that these developments would propel India to the “next level.”

Several representatives of Indian private industry welcomed the government decision. They said that it is a positive move and boosts investor confidence. Moreover, they expect a boom in small satellite launches.

As per the draft, satellite communication systems which cannot be developed in a totally commercial domain could be brought into operation with the involvement of the government for sustainability. For instance, Satcom programmes which focused on tribal development, social empowerment, health, education and disaster management will remain under DoS. “Such programmes exist to address specific objectives, and may not be commercially viable in nature,” says the draft of the Spacecom Policy-2020.

At the same time, DoS has signed a crucial agreement with NewSpace India Ltd., (NSIL) a space PSU. As per the MoU, the PSU has been tasked with further encouraging the private sector. “NSIL will be able to transfer technologies to the private industry,” it says.

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