India publishes a space policy with detailed guidelines for public and private collaboration

After much anticipation and a series of consultations and feedback from various stakeholders, India has finally released its much-awaited policy that lays down the guidelines and rules for the country’s space ecosystem.

On Thursday, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) released the final version (PDF) of its “Indian Space Policy 2023”, which was approved by the country’s apex decision-making body earlier this month.

The policy highlights the Indian government’s aim to “enhance space capabilities” and bring “regulatory certainty” to the space sector reforms announced in 2020. It also outlines the role and responsibilities of India’s newly established National Center for Space Promotion and Approval. (IN-SPACe), which works with private actors, including space technology start-ups in the country, to develop solutions and services for the space sector.

“IN-SPACe will function as an autonomous government organization mandated to promote, manage, direct and approve space activities in the country. To this end, IN-SPACe will periodically issue guidelines and procedures that will, among other things, promote the ease of doing business,” the rulebook says.

In addition to private participants, IN-SPACe will work with academia and national and global industry players to promote space development in the country. The policy also states that the center must “issue guidelines to meet safety and security requirements for space facilities.”

The policy allows start-ups to “carry out end-to-end activities in the space sector by establishing and operating space facilities, ground assets and related services such as communication, remote sensing, navigation, etc.,” according to the guidelines issued by it AND. – SPACE.

Separately, ISRO has defined its role to focus “primarily on research and development of new space technologies and applications and on expanding human understanding of space.” The space agency will provide private and public participants in the space sector with “free and open” access to data from its satellites for remote sensing of the ground sampling distance of 5 meters and beyond. In addition, archived satellite data and satellite-derived thematic data from remote sensing satellites will be made available on a ‘free and open’ basis for research and development purposes.

The space agency will also transition from manufacturing operational space systems to partner and collaborate with national and global industry and academia to focus on research and development in space science, technology and applications, according to the framework.

In addition to ISRO, the framework defines the responsibilities of NewSpace India Limited and the Ministry of Space.

NewSpace India Limited is in charge of commercializing space technologies and managing the production, leasing and procurement of space assets from private and public actors. In the meantime, the Ministry of Space will lead the implementation of the space policy and ensure that responsibilities are properly distributed among the various stakeholders.

Indian Aerospace Association (ISpA) Director General Lt Gen AK Bhatt said the policy provides much-needed clarity on all space activities and will help create opportunities for private players.

“It also clearly defines IN-SPACa’s role as a one-stop-shop agency for the approval of space activities by governmental entities and NGEs (Non-Governmental Entities). With this policy clarity, we are confident that IN-SPACe and DoT will act swiftly to secure necessary clearances for private players in India,” he added.

The association counts space technology start-ups including Mayfield-backed AgniKul and SIG-invested Singapore-based Skyroot Aerospace as members, as well as private companies such as Bharti Airtel and OneWeb.

Private players, including start-ups in the country’s aerospace sector, have also called on the government to introduce a foreign direct investment policy to attract global investors. However, the details of this are yet to be announced.

The new policy comes months after the government published its draft for consultation last year as a major update to the original set of rules published in 2017.

Over the past few months, the Indian government has been working to boost the country’s space activities to make it an attractive market for customers around the world.

Among other things, recent government figures tabled in Parliament show that ISRO launch vehicles have launched as many as 388 foreign satellites in the last eight years, including 37 till March. Microsoft also recently partnered with the space agency to partner with local space technology startups.

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