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Private Space

India needs to fill the policy vacuum for private-sector space industry

By: | Updated: January 16, 2015 5:39 PM

Space, for quite some time now, has ceased being the final frontier for private enterprise. From asteroid-mining to space tourism, business opportunities in space are being explored by companies like Google, Virgin and many other Earth-bound corporate behemoths and start-ups. However, such enterprises are primarily concentrated in the West while in India, despite it clearly being a space-sophisticate, outside-Earth concerns have primarily been the domain of the government-sector Indian Space Research Organisation.

This could soon change if more companies like Dhruva Space, Bangalore-based start-up that is the first Indian private sector firm making satellites, enter the Indian space industry. The company is looking to manufacture small satellites typically weighing between 10-100 kg with a focus on assembly, integration and testing. Foreign makers have already shown interest in collaboration with Dhruva, as per a news report, which could perhaps facilitate exchange  of cutting-edge technology. That the company already has an order—from a private client for a communications satellite—is evidence that private space industry in the country is already in germination. India would benefit from many more Dhruvas given it would mean greater competition and efficiency. A crucial limiting factor, however, seems to be the present lack of policy for such industry. This, of course, would be remedied as the segment gets populated with more private players and the government seeks to put in place the required regulation. Given how fast such players are moving in other nations with comparable space prowess, India needs an appropriate policy environment at the earliest.

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