By Staff Correspondent
Lieutenant General Anil Kumar Bhatt (r), Director General of the Indian Space Association, emphasised the crucial role of space communication, earth observation, and satellite communications in shaping India’s future during the recently concluded Indian Space Conclave 2023.
He stated, “Space has become vital for us, with three critical areas: space communication, Earth Observation, and Satellite Navigation.”
The space spectrum comprises the range of electromagnetic radiation used for space communications and navigation, serving as a critical resource for various economic activities. This includes satellite telecommunications, providing essential services like broadband internet, television broadcasting, and mobile phone connectivity to businesses and consumers across the country.
Global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), such as GPS and Galileo, enable satellite navigation, benefiting industries like transportation, agriculture, and construction.
Earth observation satellites supply vital data on the Earth’s environment and resources, used for purposes like weather forecasting, disaster relief, and natural resource management.
Notably, satellite communication was highlighted as a vital aspect with downstream applications transforming industries. In the digital age, communication is akin to the new oil.
Jayant Patel, Chairman of the Indian Space Association, stressed the need for India to significantly expand its space sector in the next decade, reflecting the sector’s growing importance in India’s economic landscape.
The space spectrum is a finite resource, and demand for it is rapidly increasing due to the growing use of satellite-based services and the development of new applications such as autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things.
The space spectrum can stimulate economic growth in several ways. Firstly, it supports the development of new industries and businesses, as seen in the satellite broadband sector. Secondly, it enhances the efficiency and productivity of existing industries, as demonstrated by the use of GNSS in farming and transportation. Lastly, it fosters innovation, leading to the development of new technologies such as MRI machines and GPS receivers.
Today, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP, in collaboration with Nasscom and the Indian Space Association (ISpA), launched the “Exploring opportunities for Indian downstream spacetech” report at the Indian Space Conclave 2023.
The report talks about India’s booming space economy and collaboration opportunities for the private sector and the government specifically focusing on downstream spacetech.
To maximize the economic benefits of the space spectrum, effective management is crucial. This entails creating policies that encourage innovation and investment while ensuring fair and efficient spectrum utilization.
Rahul Vatts, Chief Regulatory Officer of Bharti Airtel, underscored the significance of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the space sector, stating, “FDI brings not only financial support but also fosters global innovation and collaboration, a recognition that the Indian Government has now embraced for the space spectrum’s role in economic growth.”
The space spectrum is a valuable resource with the potential to drive economic growth and create jobs. Effective management will ensure that the benefits of the space age are accessible to all.
Rise of Space Start-ups in India
Space start-ups in India play a crucial role in one of the world’s most advanced space sectors. The Indian government has taken proactive steps to promote the growth of the private space sector, including establishing the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe). In recent years, India has witnessed a remarkable surge in space start-ups, fostering innovation, job creation, and positioning the country as a global space technology hub.
Nilanjan Routh, Associate Director (SPI), ISRO, highlighted IN-SPACe’s role in supporting start-ups, nurturing innovation, and fostering growth within the space sector.
Space start-ups offer communication services for various applications, including broadband internet access, satellite TV, and mobile communication. For instance, Astrogate Labs is developing a satellite constellation to provide broadband internet access to rural and underserved areas in India.
Rajiv Sinha, Principal Advisor at the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), emphasized digitization as a key factor in satellite communication. He stated, “Satellite communication has evolved into a broadband solution, playing a pivotal role in bridging the digital divide by bringing high-speed internet to rural and remote areas.”
Space start-ups also provide Earth observation data for agriculture, forestry, and disaster management. For example, Pixxel is developing a constellation of small satellites for high-resolution Earth surface imaging. They also supply remote sensing data for various applications, such as mineral exploration, mapping, and environmental monitoring, as demonstrated by Dhruva Space’s efforts.
Sivaji Chatterjee, CEO, President, and MD of Hughes Communication India, pointed out that satellite technology in India, thanks to cost-effective terrestrial networks, has broad applications, making it accessible for a multitude of use cases.
While the Indian space start-up ecosystem is still in its early stages, it is growing rapidly and poised to play a significant role in the global space sector.
Avinash Agrawal, Invest India, emphasised the importance of self-reliance (Atmanirbhar Bharat) in the space sector. He stressed the need to produce core transmission equipment and customer-centric equipment locally to reduce dependence on imports.
He remarked, “Tailor-made solutions for customers are vital in the Satellite Industry.”
The session highlighted the growing importance of the space spectrum in driving economic growth and innovation across various sectors and the pivotal role of space start-ups in India. With collaboration, innovation, and a focus on self-reliance, India’s journey into space promises to be an exciting and transformative one.