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ISRO & Private space sector UPSC NOTE

 

  • Since ISRO’s founding in 1969, several state-owned firms like Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Antrix Corporation, and private companies like Godrej Aerospace, Ananth Technologies, and Larsen & Toubro have helped it manufacture rockets, satellites, and other space components for ISRO. 

  • However, the boost to the Indian private space sector came in 2020 when the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) was established to promote, authorise and supervise various space activities of non-governmental entities (NGEs).

  • With the Centre allowing 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in the space sector, the industry’s private players are eyeing a boost in funding from overseas companies and investors.


  • In 1992, the Department of Space (DoS) spun off Antrix Corporation Ltd., a wholly government-owned company under ISRO’s administrative control, to promote, market and deliver commercial products of ISRO to international companies. 

  • Antrix is the conduit between ISRO and its private industry partners to facilitate technology transfer, assess financial and commercial viability of joint ventures and develop the industrial capabilities of the Indian space sector.

  • Turning its focus to India’s domestic space industry, in 2019, the Centre established NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) – a public sector undertaking run by the DoS, to boost indigenous production of various ISRO space products by the industry consortium. 

  • Start-ups began to take root in India in the early 2010s with the first space start-up, Dhruva Space Private Limited, being established in 2012 in Hyderabad. 

  • Soon after, several other space start-ups cropped up in India: Bellatrix Aerospace (2015), Aadyah Aerospace (2016), AgniKul Cosmos (2017), Manastu Space (2017), Skyroot Aerospace (2018), Satellize (2018), and Pixxel (2019) etc.

  • As of date, over 200 space start-ups are registered in the country, attracting investments worth ₹1000 crore in 2023 itself

  • Dhruva Space - Based in Hyderabad, Dhruva Space was founded in 2012 to design customised satellites, ground stations and launch services from ground or space.

  • Skyroot - founded in 2018 in Hyderabad and specialises in manufacturing space launch vehicles.

    • In 2020, the company became the first private Indian start-up to successfully test liquid propulsion engines as well as a 3D printed cryogenic engine. 

    • In November 2022, it launched India’s first private rocket, Vikram-S, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota

  • Agnikul Cosmos - start-up manufacturing space launch vehicles, was incubated at the Indian Institute of Madras in 2017

    • After testing its single-piece 3D printed engine Agnilet in 2022, it also inaugurated India’s first private mobile launchpad ‘Dhanush’ and the Agnikul mission control center at Sriharikota


  • Manastu Space - Founded in 2017, the Mumbai-based space start up Manastu Space specialises in green technology for space

  • It manufactures green propulsion systems using hydrogen peroxide-based rocket fuel for satellites, and debris collision avoidance systems for CubeSats named Vyom 1U and 2U


Indian regulatory framework

IN-SPACe

  • It was set up as a single-window, independent, nodal agency to authorise, promote and supervise space activities of private non-governmental entities. 

  • The agency will overlook NGEs’ activities such as building launch vehicles, satellites, sharing infrastructure and premises under ISRO/DoS control and establishment of new facilities and infrastructure. 

  • It also monitors and evaluates proposals from NGEs and issues authorisations for space activities such as launches and test firing.

National Geospatial Policy

  • In February 2021, Centre issued guidelines for private companies to acquire all geospatial data and maps from government agencies without licences, and permission or clearances for collection, use and dissemination, except certain categories. 

  • Geospatial data is information about objects, events or phenomena that occur on a location on earth’s surface indentified by latitude and longitude co-ordinates.


Indian Space Policy

  • Strengthening the private space sector in India by finally providing a legislative framework, the Centre rolled out the Indian Space Policy on April 20, 2023


ISRO’s Role

  • With the opening up of the sector and the above-mentioned slew of reforms, the Centre aims to boost Indian space economy from its current worth of $8 billion (2% of global space economy) to $100 billion by 2040

  • Since 2020, start-ups have successfully launched their own satellites, sub-orbital launch vehicle and also established a portable launchpad and a private mission control centre within the ISRO campus.

  • Despite the increased participation of private companies in the Indian space sector, ISRO remains its driving force. 

ISRO’s Role

  • As of 2023, ISRO has launched 424 foreign satellites since the 1990s, of which 389 were launched since 2014

  • With scheduled missions to moon, sun, mars, deep space explorations and several satellite launches, ISRO will continue to lead the sector – albeit partnering with start-ups for manufacturing smaller subsystems



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: ISRO & Private space sector UPSC NOTE
ISRO & Private space sector UPSC NOTE
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