Almost a couple of years ago, a committee headed by aerospace scientist Dr A Sivathanu Pillai had submitted a report to ISRO in which he had proposed the opening up of the space sector to private players.
The Indian government’s announcement to offer a level playing field to the private sector in Space is significant. The decision to open the Space sector to private companies has been pending for a while now. Almost a couple of years ago, a committee headed by aerospace scientist Dr A Sivathanu Pillai had submitted a report to ISRO in which he had proposed the opening up of the space sector to private players.
“That the private sector can use Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) facilities and other relevant assets will be music to the domestic private sector which has been trying to get a share of the pie,” says Dr Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, Head, Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative, Observer Research Foundation.
According to Dr Rajagopalan, a Distinguished Fellow, “The requirement for this policy articulation is long overdue and has been remained one of the important questions in contemporary policy debates. This is possibly in recognition of i) the growing requirements of space in multiple fields including in the security domain; ii) the intensifying space competition in the Indo-Pacific and beyond; iii) the ISRO’s capacity deficits to deliver on the growing demands; iv) to take full advantage of the Indian private sector that can deliver on India’s capacity requirements.”
“Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement that the Indian private sector will have a major role to play in India’s space story including in launches, planetary exploration and space-based services is something that can accelerate the pace of the Indian space programme leaps and bounds,” she says.
“The announcement which was made on Saturday needs to be followed up with appropriate policy and regulatory frameworks that will facilitate the private sector to play an active role in India’s space programme,” Dr Rajagopalan urges.
How will the private sector help?
Several companies including Godrej, L&T and other small companies are already working closely with ISRO. The space agency is also subcontracting work to smaller companies and with the opening of the sector, there could be immense opportunities for the start-ups.
Dr A Sivathanu Pillai’s report has suggested the private companies can be involved in building satellites and also be involved subsequently in launches.
The ISRO is already very active and has been involved in major launches on its PSLV. And if the private sector is allowed there is huge potential for growth in the space sector.