Private-sector participation in space: Space for start-ups

Source: The post is based on the article “Space for start-ups” published in the Business Standard on 22nd November 2022.

Syllabus: GS3- Awareness in the field of space

Relevance: About the private-sector participation in space.

News: The successful launch of Vikram-S, India’s first privately built rocket from start-up Skyroot, has focused on the opening up of space to private enterprises. Once the technology stabilises, the firm expects to launch two rockets a month.

About Vikram-S
Read here: Vikram-S: India’s first private launch vehicle all set for maiden flight
What is the potential of the Indian private sector in the space sector and the advantages of rapid launch capabilities?
Read here: Importance of the private sector in manufacturing quick launch capabilities 

The global commercial space market is worth $360 billion and expected to grow to at least $500 billion by 2030. Both government agencies and private-sector firms are intent on launching satellites to service demands across areas ranging from internet broadband to entertainment delivery, climate monitoring, and multiple geo-location-based services.

How private-sector participation in space will enhance the capability of ISRO?

India’s space market share is just about $7 billion, which is tiny, given the impressive capacity developed by ISRO. But the private participation will a) Help to translate ISRO’s demonstrated capabilities into business opportunities, b) Boost India’s market share to $50 billion, or roughly 10%, by 2030, c) Help ISRO to focus on R&D and farm out the job of manufacturing components in accordance with specifications to the private sector, d) Ensure technology transfers from the agency to private players, and e) Allows private players to use Isro facilities for launches and tests as Skyroot did.

All this will enable private enterprises to move up the value chain from being component suppliers to players in the aerospace sector. On the other hand, ISRO could concentrate on more demanding tasks such as building bigger rockets and satellites with more capacity and more sophisticated capabilities.

What are the steps taken by the government to increase private-sector participation in space?

ISRO will soon induct a batch of five Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles (PSLVs) which are being built by a consortium of Hindustan Aeronautics and Larsen & Toubro. This marks the first instance where an entire rocket has been built outside the agency.

Hughes communication is in collaboration to deliver commercial broadband using ISRO satellites.

How did NASA benefit from private-sector participation in space?

NASA now tenders out all its manufacturers and issues tenders for innovative designs according to its specifications. For example, a) the reusable Falcon 9 rockets and the Starlink satellite service of SpaceX arose out of this policy, b) All the designs for NASA’s Artemis Mission is getting obtained through private R&D working to NASA specifications.

On the other hand, NASA does some of its own designs and releases many patents. So, the adoption of a similar policy could turn India into an aerospace powerhouse.

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