Changes in ISRO's Space Activities after the Introduction of New Reforms

At the webinar “ Unlocking India’s Potential in Space Sector”, ISRO chairman K Sivan cleared out the misconception of privatization of ISRO

Changes in ISRO's Space Activities after the Introduction of New Reforms
Changes in ISRO's Space Activities after the Introduction of New Reforms

Changes in ISRO's Space Activities after the Introduction of New Reforms

At the webinar "Unlocking India's Potential in Space Sector", ISRO chairman K Sivan cleared out the misconception of privatization of ISRO; instead, IN-SPACe will be responsible for activities carried out by the private players. In the discussion R, Umamaheswaren, the Scientific Secretary, explained the existing and emerging trends in the space sector activities by ISRO. 

At present, the department of Space carries out end to end space activities in India, such as designing, developing, and realizing the launch vehicles and spacecraft. It looks after launch and post-launch activities along with space-based services. To carry out these activities seamlessly, infrastructure and facilities of various ISRO centers are used while the research is carried out in Academia. More than 500 industries produce the components. It is lesser-known that about 80% launch vehicles and 60% of spacecraft budgets are spent in the industry. 

Going further, ISRO's emerging trends, including Space-based services and applications, have grown in multitude than originally envisaged. User demands and requirements are on a growth trajectory with huge commercial potential. The private sector of India is engaging in space activities and is eager to make the launch vehicles, satellites, and provide space-based services. The participation of the private sector in the end to end space activities is expected to expand the space economy with the new space reforms.

NSIL's enhanced mandates 

Earlier, NSIL (NewSpace India Limited) was involved in PSLV and SSLV production through Indian Industry and provide Launch services for customer satellites and Space-based services. Now it will provide launch services for customer satellites also. NSIL will now build launch vehicles, including PSLV, SSLV, GSLV, and GSLV-MK II, through the Indian industry. 

The enhanced mandate includes owing satellites and providing space-based services on a commercial basis. It will be responsible for building satellites and launching them as per demand. Previously NSIL's scope was limited to commercial exploitation of ISRO's space products & services, enabling the Indian Industry's growth. Now it has a wider scope, and it can perform operational missions of ISRO. It will have highly complex and capital intensive activities. 

Also, there are new opportunities in the Human Spaceflight Programme that includes Debris Management and Mitigation, Fluid Engineering, Space Medicine and Diagnosis, Microgravity Simulation, In-situ 3D manufacturing for Space, Space robotics and Green Propulsion. 

Opening of Private sector and proposed reforms

To encourage greater participation of the private sector in space activities, India's government has approved Space sector reforms. The private sector is going to carry out end to end space activities through the suitable enabling mechanism. There is going to be an announcement of opportunities to industry to involve private players, whereas ISRO will be involved in the development of new technologies. It will enable sharing its facilities with the Private Players. NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) is to own operational launch vehicles, satellites, and services. 

There is going to be the creation of a "National Level Nodal Agency" to power it and monitor the private sector's space activities as per the defined regulatory provisions. It will also permit usage of ISRO facilities as per the private sector's requirements. This independent agency will promote and handhold private players. One of the primary requisites to carry out these is the enactment of the Space Activity Bill, which is now in the final shape and presented in the ministry. It has to be approved by the cabinet and presented in parliament for making it an act that is mandatory because India is a signatory to Outer Space Treaty. 

Space activities bill and Space Policies

The Space Activities Bill is at an advanced stage of approval. It defines space activities and associated risks and liabilities, all with regulatory norms. SATCOM policy and Remote Sensing Policy are under revision, whereas a new Navigation Policy is being formulated.