Synopsis: ISRO should take advantage of the market opportunities in the India space sector.
Brazil’s Amazonia-1 satellite was launched last week from Sriharikota. It was the first dedicated commercial mission of NewSpace India Limited (NSIL). NSIL is a two-year-old commercial arm of the Department of Space.
Initiatives by India for promotion of Space sector
There is a potential explosion of market opportunities from space applications in the near future.
- Firstly, the institutionalization of space commerce. Regulatory agency the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe) and an independent tribunal are formed. It will be helpful in resolving disputes among private space entities. It also signifies the recognition of potential in space commerce by the government.
- Secondly, the private sector plays an important role in developing launch and satellite infrastructure for ISRO. Many companies now offer numerous services. Many of these companies even aspire to launch their own satellites.
- Thirdly, NSIL has a broad ambit of functions. It will collaborate on new launch programs and with overseas space industries. It is also expected to be a marketer of ISRO’s technologies. Likewise, it has to find new business opportunities and expand the sector.
What are the issues?
- Firstly, the Commercialization experience of ISRO has not always been smooth. The Government still owes nearly $1.2 billion to devas multimedia due to the Devas-Antrix deal controversy. Antrix was a commercial arm of the Department of Space.
- Secondly, the motivation behind NSIL may not be purely commercial. NSIL is considered to be a move by India’s space establishment to protect the space industry in India from the consequences of the Devas-Antrix mess.
- Third, there is a scope of overlapping of roles between NSIL and ANTRIX. This is primarily because the difference in the responsibilities of NSIL and Antrix is quite confusing. It is yet to be properly delineated.
The way forward
NSIL must try to not be another Antrix but be continuously in start-up mode. It must think of ways to aid space start-ups to reach out to rural India and enable more recruits from India’s young. It must see itself both as an Indian ambassador and disruptor in the space arena.