The Government of India in its endeavor to bring about clarity in space regulations have notified the Space Policy, 2023. In the background of private entities expressing keen interest to participate in the space sector, the Space Policy, 2023 (“Policy”) was released on April 21, 2023, a week after it was approved by the cabinet. The Policy states that the aim of the Government is to usher in a more uniform and predictable regulatory framework for private player’s participation in the India’s space programme. It is a working document which sheds light on how the government envisages its space programme and objectives.
Role of IN-SPACe re-defined.
Any company, partnership firm, trust or association of persons or body of individuals can now participate in the space sector through the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre [ IN-SPACe]. Previously, the IN-SPACe was specifically set-up to promote and enable the participation of Non-Government Entities (NGEs) in areas such as launching vehicles, satellite building and providing space-based services. IN-SPACe will remain the point of contact and provide single window clearance for private entities willing to undertake commercial activities.
The new Policy has further expanded the scope of IN-SPACe to enable it to regulate the standards the NGEs need to meet in order to participate actively in the sector. Its role is also viewed to bridge knowledge transfer gaps between the government and NGEs when it comes to innovation in space technologies. IN-SPACe will also facilitate the creation of industry clusters, manufacturing hubs, zones and incubation centres to promote space innovation and it has also been vested with the responsibility of creating adequate standards to ensure space activity in India adheres to global standards.
Boost to start up economy
Yet another declaration that stands out in the policy is the Government’s interest to support startups working in the space sector ecosystem. NGEs will now be able to offer national and international space-based communication services, through self-owned and leased communication satellites. They can also manufacture and operate space transportation systems, including launch vehicles, shuttles etc. Private entities can explore commercial space activities subject to INSPACe’s approval.
Role of ISRO & DoS
ISRO’s focus continues to primarily involve research and development of new space technologies and applications. The role of Department of Space (DoS) is that of a watchdog to ensure the different functionaries under the policy are discharging their duties within the precinct of their domain. It will also remain a nodal agency to oversee the implementation of the Space Policy, 2023. Significantly the DoS will also be responsible to function keeping in view the sustainable development goals formulated by the United Nations and also facilitate disaster management efforts using critical remote sensing satellite data.
In a nutshell, the Policy, 2023 seems to be a promising framework to build public private partnership in the space sector and it would be interesting to observe its implementation in the coming years.