Context: Recently, India opened up the space sector, with the intention of gaining economic and strategic importance. However, reality has been different.
India’s share in the $440-billion global space economy is only around 2%.
In June, 2020, India announced reforms based on four pillars; 1) Freedom of innovation for the private sector, 2) Changing the government’s role to be an enabler, 3) Preparing youth for the future, 4) Using space technology for the progress of the common man.
Although the private sector has shown interest in the collaboration, but, is not to the extent expected. A global report by SpaceTech Analytics finds that India has more than 350 private space tech firms, but the majority of these are just start-ups.
What are the reasons behind the disinterest of the private sector?
First, there is Indian businesses’ propensity for risk aversion.
Second, the space sector does not offer an easy success, despite the opportunities it is presenting.
Third, for the success of reforms, political will, financial capability, indigenous futuristic technologies and global partnerships are required.
Fourth, the sector is highly capital-intensive and risk-prone.
What should/can be done?
Earlier this month, NASA’s Thomas Zurbuchen said in Bengaluru:
“Mind you, there would be no private sector if not for Nasa.”
First, ISRO must follow the NASA model of partnering with and enabling the private sector. ISRO’s technical prowess and vision can be helpful in utilizing the potential of eager and ambitious albeit small (in number and size) private industry.
Second, the Centre must increase ISRO’s funding and enhance its capacity. It will enable the ISRO to handle big science missions such as Gaganyaan, Chandrayaan, and Aditya and help the private sector innovate and build technologies for the future.
Third, IN-SPACe, whose headquarters was inaugurated two weeks ago, must bridge industry gaps with expertise and wherewithal from Isro, through NSIL or otherwise.
Source: This post is created based on the article “We Have A Long Wait Before India Inc Gets Space-Ready” published in Times of India on 22nd June 2022.