By Staff Correspondent
India’s space exploration efforts have achieved a significant milestone with the recent unveiling of the first-ever public release of the Indian Space Policy by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This policy document is a groundbreaking development as it represents the Indian government’s first-ever articulation and publication of its policy for outer space in one single document over the past sixty years. With an increasing number of stakeholders outside the realms of the government, it has become essential to provide a clear overview of the Indian government’s mandate for enhancing the nation’s footprint in outer space.
The concise 11-page-long policy has the most comprehensive canvas possible for the Indian space program as it is today and is based on the 2020 space sector reforms. Although some of the points may have been previously articulated by the Indian government, including ISRO and Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), the document provides an overview of the Indian government’s mandate for enhancing the nation’s space exploration capabilities.
It is worth noting that the Indian Space Policy is focused on civilian and commercial space agencies, with no explicit mention of space security-related points. However, this does not imply that the Indian government is not concerned about space security. A separate space defence document may be released in the future.
The Indian Space Policy 2023 clearly distinguishes roles for ISRO, IN-SPACe, New Space India Limited, and the Department of Space (DoS). This precise role demarcation will soon bring semblance to task delegation, allowing all four entities to focus on their tasks, resulting in a multiplier effect regarding the output they generate.
Moreover, the Indian Government’s Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Commerce have become crucial stakeholders in the Indian Space Policy. The growing access of countries to outer space and the convoluted and potential cascade effects of their activities demand the Indian government to be on its toes for any scenario. The policy shows that problem-solving and opportunity-seeking are the entire government’s responsibility.
The Indian Space Policy 2023 mandates ISRO’s transition of mature technologies and systems to the commercial sector, focusing only on R&D and proving new systems and technologies to meet “national prerogatives” and the DoS’s close collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to coordinate international cooperation and areas of global space governance and programs.
The jointness of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)-MEA in taking the Indian space program international would prove to be a pivotal element for India’s positioning as a superpower. The PMO-MEA jointness will enable India to quickly deploy space technologies and services for humanitarian assistance, extending them as a cooperative hand for human development and using them for strategic gains when needed.
The Indian Space Policy 2023 represents an important milestone in India’s space exploration efforts. It will be interesting to see how these policies are implemented in the coming years as India looks to position itself as a critical player in the global space race.
Lieutenant General AK Bhatt (r), Director General, Indian Space Association (ISpA) expressed his satisfaction over the development saying: “We are delighted and happy with the release of the Indian Space Policy 2023 today. The policy is forward-looking and will help to fulfill our hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision for the growth of the Space industry in India. This policy provides the much needed clarity on all space activities especially regarding space communication and other Applications.
“The policy will help to create opportunities for private sector to engage in all aspects of the space industry, from setting up and operating space objects and ground-based assets, to offering related services like communication, remote sensing, and navigation, thereby enabling them to provide end-to-end solutions in the space sector. The policy will be a catalyst for development of a robust innovative and globally competitive space ecosystem in India.
“It also clearly defines the role of IN-SPACe, as a single-window agency for the authorization of Space activities by government entities as well as NGEs. With this policy clarity, we are confident that IN-SPACe and DoT will work speedily to ensure necessary clearances for private players in India. We are also hopeful that the new FDI policy on space will be promulgated soon,” he added before signing off.