Space tech firms demand PM’s oversight, fast approvals, fine tuning of rules

By: |
October 11, 2021 5:15 PM

Space technology start-up Pixxel founder and CEO Awais Ahmed said the company has made its first satellite and in a few months it will be launched through ISRO.

ISRO GaganyaanBharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Mittal said space communications is going to be the new frontier.

Space technology entrepreneurs, including Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal, on Monday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to expedite regulatory approvals, provide his personal oversight over the developments and fine tune rules to suit requirements of the industry.

Start-ups and small medium enterprises requested the prime minister to provide support in low-cost capital at the virtual launch of space and satellite industry body Indian Space Association (ISpA).

“Many approval processes are very slow. It takes a year and half to get approvals. Next 3-4 years are very critical. I request you to keep a personal oversight on this. If you will keep a watch on it and take status on the progress report then it will move at a very rapid pace,” Mittal said during the online industry interaction with the prime minister.

During the event, he shared that Bharti Group backed OneWeb has entered into an arrangement with the commercial arm of ISRO, NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), to launch its satellite in India from 2022.

OneWeb is building its initial constellation of 648 LEO satellites and has already put 322 satellites into orbit.

Bharti Group along with the UK government, Softbank, Hughes and Eutelsat have invested in the OneWeb.

INSPACe chairman designate Pawan Goenka said India still has a very small share of the global space economy at just about 2 per cent and time has come for us to transition to India Space 2.0.

“We need to substantially increase our space capacity. We are doing 4-5 launches a year. I believe we have to triple this number in the mid-term. We need to quickly have small launch vehicles operational from both ISRO and the private sector,” Goenka said.

According to market research and advisory firm EY, the global space economy reached USD 371 billion in 2020 and India accounted for 2.6 per cent of the global space economy amounting to USD 9.6 billion which was 0.5 per cent of the GDP of the country. The Indian space economy is likely to reach USD 12.8 billion by 2025.

Space technology start-up Pixxel founder and CEO Awais Ahmed said the company has made its first satellite and in a few months it will be launched through ISRO.

“This satellite was planned for launch from Russia but after the government’s announcement shifted to India. It is a proud moment for us that India’s first private imaging satellite will be launched by an Indian rocket. In the next two years, we will launch 30 more satellites which will provide data to the world and I expect them to be launched through ISRO,” Ahmed said.

He said that if the regulatory approval process is expedited from months to weeks then the company can proceed at a faster pace.

Tata Nelco managing director and CEO PJ Nath asked the prime minister to expedite launch of space communication policy which will not only help in expanding the horizon of the space sector but will also help in future planning.

He said that some of the licences are very old including VSAT.

“There are new technologies happening globally as well as in the country. Some of this flexibility needs to be brought in now. We will request you to look at some of those aspects and make the policy cover in today’s context,” Nath said.

Walchandnagar Industries MD and CEO Chirag C Doshi said that his company has been participating in space projects since 1973 and would request the government to create a system SME in the space sector to get access to cost effective capital and potential subsidies for manufacturing similar to those given for production linked incentive schemes.

“It will require many of us to invest large amounts of capital to enhance our manufacturing facilities,” Doshi said.

Start-up Astrome Technologies CEO Neha Satak requested for an environment to encourage developments of more intellectual property rights in the field of space technology in India and support for start-ups in testing space products. “It will be great if free testing can be arranged,” Satak said.

IIT Madras Professor V Kamakoti said that he has created a consortium of five space start-ups– Agnikul Cosmos, Drone Vayu, Mindgrove Technologies, Resileo Labs and endeavours to have a commercial launch in space technology before 2023.

ISpA chairman Jayant Patil said space is a sunshine sector for the Indian entrepreneurs in the private sector to actually start building solutions across the domains in the sector.

“We hope to be creating this with an absolutely embracing kind of an environment and will work with the government. We will work with all the decision makers to make India’s space sector a global player and an absolute position of pride for India in the times to come,” Patil said.

According to EY, the Indian satellite manufacturing and launch systems market reached USD 0.3 billion in 2020 and is expected to increase at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32 per cent between 2020-25 to reach USD 1.1 billion in 2025.

The Indian satellite services market reached USD 3.8 billion in 2020 and is forecast to grow to USD 4.7 billion in 2025, at a CAGR of 4.3 per cent.

 

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