Wednesday, October 4, 2023

India Takes Bold Strides In Space Defence: First-Ever DefSpace Symposium Sets Stage For Self-Reliance & Innovation

By Staff Correspondent

The Indian Space Association (ISpA) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have successfully organised the first-ever Indian DefSpace Symposium, a pioneering event to elevate India’s space defence capabilities through a collaborative approach to address challenges and achieve self-reliance. Spanning over three days from 11-13 April, the symposium has brought together key stakeholders to engage in in-depth discussions, with a sharp focus on delivering space domain awareness to enhance military capabilities, expanding partnerships bandwidth, fostering new space operations, and developing a Defence Space Strategy in alignment with the National Space Strategy.

During Day 2 of the symposium, industry experts and thought leaders eloquently and enthusiastically shared their insights and perspectives on various aspects of India’s DefSpace ecosystem. Rajesh Muneshwar, Co-founder and Chief Technical Officer of Vihaan Spacetech, emphasised the critical need to cultivate a robust space investment culture in India, drawing parallels with the Western market that has recognised the immense value of space and invested heavily in the private sector. Vihaan Spacetech’s CTO passionately urged the government to promote space start-ups and create dedicated space investment forums to spur innovation and drive growth in the sector.

The recently approved Indian Space Policy 2023 has paved the way for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to provide its state-of-the-art facilities to the private sector at a nominal charge, to encourage investments in new infrastructure and promote seamless collaboration between ISRO and private players. Dr Sudheer Kumar N, Director of Capacity Building & Public Outreach (CBPO), ISRO, lauded this visionary move, stating that ISRO’s vast reservoir of space-related knowledge needs to be disseminated among all stakeholders to indeed contribute to capacity building. He further recommended that premier institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) should share their knowledge through a comprehensive national framework and establish a streamlined single-window setup for easy access to data and information related to its usage.

Vinod Chippalkatti, President of SEBU, Centum Group, underlined the profound significance of adopting a unique and visionary approach in the decision-making process to deliver cutting-edge technology and bridge the gap between users and providers in the DefSpace domain. Space has emerged as the fifth frontier of defence, after the Air Force, Navy, Army, and Cyber, and requires a specialised procurement policy to cater to its unique requirements. Major General AK Channan (r), who served as the first Additional Director General of the Army Design Bureau (ADB), astutely emphasised the need for project-oriented teams instead of domain specialists, as technology constantly evolves and manpower needs to be aligned accordingly. He passionately advocated for procuring technology and products in the development phase to allow for continuous improvement, particularly in times of heightened demand during war scenarios.

Dr Ranjana Kaul, Partner at Dua Associates, cogently highlighted the pressing need for clarity, predictability, and a meticulously drafted composite plan for the Indian armed forces and allied services, as well as start-ups, to streamline the acquisition and timely delivery of cutting-edge products and services in the DefSpace sector.

The Indian DefSpace Symposium 2023 has ignited crucial conversations and deliberations among key stakeholders to elevate India’s space defence capabilities to unprecedented heights. With a resolute focus on fostering a dynamic ecosystem through a robust space investment culture, a seamless collaboration between ISRO and private players, knowledge sharing among premier institutions, specialised procurement mechanisms, and streamlined acquisition processes, India is poised to take bold strides towards becoming self-reliant and emerging as a formidable player in the global DefSpace arena.

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