Friday, December 1, 2023

India’s Space Ambitions Soar As Government & Private Sector Synergize, Attracting Global Investments

By Staff Correspondent

India’s space industry is witnessing a robust synergy between governmental bodies and the burgeoning private sector, further energized by the prospect of foreign investments. The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe), an autonomous entity under the Department of Space, recently engaged with international counterparts, deliberating on the Indian Space Policy’s potential to elevate India as a cooperative space-faring entity.

The discussions underscored the policy’s pivotal role in institutionalising private sector involvement in space activities, delineating roles for both the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in R&D and IN-SPACe in fostering the national space ecosystem. Dr. Pawan Goenka, Chairman of IN-SPACe, highlighted the policy’s capacity to widen India’s footprint in the global space economy, citing the impressive growth of over 200 space startups in the country.

In a noteworthy development, ISRO’s Space Applications Centre (SAC) partnered with Nav Wireless Technologies Pvt Ltd to harness light-based communication for space satellite communication, marking a shift from traditional Radio Frequency methods. This technology enables secure quantum key distribution and satellite-to-satellite communications, readying it for deployment in ISRO’s future space explorations.

October also saw Optimized Electrotech Pvt Ltd (OEPL) acquiring the Optical Imaging System (OIS) technology from NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), a unit developed by ISRO. This technology enhances long-distance surveillance across various spectra, promising transformative impacts, particularly in areas requiring precision surveillance.

The space education sphere witnessed a collaboration between SPACE India and ISRO, with the former becoming an official Space Tutor, aiming to enrich space education across the nation.

On the international investment front, prominent players like RTX Corporation and Intelsat have been invited to explore investment opportunities in Karnataka, with discussions around expanding operational capacities and engaging with Indian space startups.

India’s space sector is at the cusp of a transformative era, propelled by strategic collaborations, innovative technological advancements, and a welcoming stance towards international investments, all promising to solidify India’s position in the global space arena.

India Sets Sight On 2035 Space Station, Balancing Ambition & Pragmatic Collaborations

India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has boldly articulated a vision for the nation’s aerospace sector: to establish an Indian-operated space station by 2035. This comes as the country edges closer to realising its inaugural manned space mission under the Gaganyaan programme, initially announced on August 15, 2018.

While the aspiration to construct a space station, albeit modest in scale, signals India’s ambitions in space exploration, it raises questions about the potential diversion of resources. The immediate necessity lies in augmenting the nation’s satellite capabilities, honing space situational awareness, and managing the increasing congestion in Earth’s orbits.

Critically, an insular approach towards a wholly indigenous space station could impede India’s access to pivotal technologies and diminish the prospects of fortifying ties with strategic partners. A more judicious strategy would entail collaboration with a seasoned international ally, a move that would yield technological dividends and bolster diplomatic engagements.

A recent discourse analysis from the Takshashila Institution (November 2022) underscores the feasibility of such collaboration within the Quad framework, comprising Australia, India, Japan, and the United States. The document delineates the space policy trajectories, technological prowess, and historical cooperation amongst these nations, arriving at several key insights:

India, Japan, and Australia manifest considerable potential for synergy, with India and Japan acting as co-equals and Australia assuming a subsidiary role.

Collaborative prospects with the U.S. appear limited given its lunar and deep-space aspirations; however, engagement with American private sector entities remains a viable avenue for India.

Alternatives include partnerships with European spacefaring nations or a solitary venture into space station development, though the latter would entail substantial financial burdens and opportunity costs.

Alternatively, India could eschew space station construction altogether, opting instead to leverage commercial human spaceflight services.

While the document meticulously explores Quad-centric cooperative models, it also hints at the necessity for India to broaden its search for potential partnerships, ensuring a comprehensive and strategic approach to its spacefaring ambitions.

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