Becoming a space power will need India to encourage private sector in space-defence.
India has demonstrated its space prowess in many ways recently—and the sheen of the public sector achievement in space is rubbing off on the private sector. A Mint report says Indian space start-ups, many of them working on nanosats, are now finding their way into investors’ portfolios. Bengaluru-based Bellatrix Aerospace, working on propelling satellites into orbit using non-chemical and electric thrusters, has managed to raise $3 million funds from private investors. Another company, Mumbai-based Kawa Space, which designs and operates earth observation satellites, has just concluded seed round investment deals. While such investments are rising globally, Indian firms are landing a significant bite of the pie.
With the US already leading the private-sector space-race—think SpaceX and RocketLabs—India should make it easier for its private players to enter and then let market forces guide this nascent sector. With over 17,000 small satellites that could be launched between 2018 and 2030 globally, investors predict high returns in this sector. Moreover, growth of this sector will likely enable utilisation of space’s resources; since the Outer Space Treaty forbids sovereigns from exploiting space resources and colonising space, the only way to do it is to let private coroporate citizens stake claim. According to a Reuters article, the Union government is working on a Space Activities Bill to clarify the role of private companies and investors in this sector. Another aspect of this growth is defence strategy. India is yet to harness space for strategic and tactical reasons. This is due to the prime motive of Indian space sector being civilian use. Becoming a space power will need India to encourage private sector in space-defence.