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‘Private Sector Can Now Be Part of ISRO’s Interplanetary Missions’

‘Private Sector Can Now Be Part of ISRO’s Interplanetary Missions’

Featured image: ISRO chief K. Sivan. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: The private sector will now be allowed to conduct space activities like building of rockets, satellites and providing launch services, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief K. Sivan said on Thursday. He said the private sector can also be part of the inter-planetary missions of the ISRO.

The cabinet had on Wednesday approved the participation of the private sector in the entire range of space activities, including planetary exploration missions.

Sivan, however, added that ISRO’s activities will not be reduced and it will continue to conduct space-based activities including advanced research and development, inter-planetary and human space flight missions.

In a statement released on its website, the agency said this development is part of “the larger vision of transforming India to become self-reliant through a set of socio-economic reforms”. The reforms announced by the cabinet will mitigate “the large and upfront investments required to set up facilities for undertaking space activities through sharing of such existing facilities under ISRO”, the statement says.

Sivan said that the autonomous nodal agency, called Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Center (IN-SPACe) is being established under the Department of Space as a separate vertical for “permitting and regulating the activities of private industry”.

“IN-SPACe will act as a national nodal agency to hand-hold and promote private endeavours in space sector and for this ISRO will share its technical expertise as well as facilities. IN-SPACe will have its own independent Directorates for Technical, Legal, Safety & Security, Monitoring as well as Activities Promotion for assessing the private industry requirements and further coordinating the activities.” ISRO said.

According to The Hindu, the new vertical will have its own chairman and board and will function autonomously and parallel to ISRO. Sivan said IN-SPACe will be in place in three-six months, until which time the Department of Space will start receiving and processing applications from private sector industries.

The statement adds that NewSpace India Ltd. (NSIL), a CPSU under the Department of Space is being “re-defined to transform the approach of supply driven model to demand driven model for space based services”. NSIL will be strengthened and empowered to off-load operational activities of ISRO in the areas of launch vehicle and satellite production, launch services as well as space-based services. The CPSU will be expected to execute these activities through “industry consortiums”.

Also Read: India’s Space Programme: A Role for the Private Sector, Finally?

“This will allow ISRO to allocate more time and resources for R&D endeavours. ISRO will continue to carry out its present activities with greater emphasis on development of advanced technology, missions and capacity building besides supporting private endeavours in space sector.” the statement says.

ISRO said that a webinar on will soon be conducted, where more details on IN-SPACe mechanism and application requirements will be shared, along with an announcement of opportunities and the role of NSIL will be explained.

On Wednesday, the cabinet had approved the participation of the private sector in the entire range of space activities, including planetary exploration missions.

Union minister Jitendra Singh had said the Centre will also “hand-hold, promote and guide the private industries in space activities through encouraging policies and a friendly regulatory environment”.

The announcement was part of a slew of decisions that come weeks after finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement that the space sector would be opened up for private entities.

Rajeshwari Rajagopalan, head of the Space and Nuclear Initiative of the Observer Research Foundation, told news agency PTI that the private sector will help enable the country exploit the growing requirements for space-based services within the country.

“It is the reality to deal with the capacity gap that exists,” she said, adding that a legislative and regulatory framework is needed to implement these measures.

(With PTI inputs)

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