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Exploring the Indian Space Policy 2023: A Roadmap for Advancing Space Technology and National Development

Space has become an integral part of modern society, with an increasing number of countries developing their space capabilities for a wide range of applications. In this context, the development and implementation of a comprehensive space policy have become imperative. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) recently released the Indian Space Policy 2023, which aims to provide a strategic roadmap for the country’s space activities. This policy outlines India’s goals and strategies for advancing its space capabilities for national development, security, and global cooperation. The Indian Space Policy-2023, was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2023.

The need for a space policy arises from the growing importance of space activities in various sectors, including telecommunications, navigation, disaster management, weather forecasting, and national security. A well-defined policy can help in the effective and efficient utilization of space assets for national development, safeguarding national security interests, and promoting international cooperation in space.

The global space industry is worth over $500 billion, with the United States and China spending the most, according to a report by VICE. ISRO Chairman S Somanath said India’s share in the global space economy was less than two percent at present and the space policy will help it increase substantially to 10 percent in the future.

The Indian Space Policy 2023 envisions the development of advanced space technologies for various applications, including scientific exploration, communication, and earth observation. The policy aims to leverage space technology for socio-economic development, which includes applications like telemedicine, precision agriculture, and disaster management.

Another important aspect of the policy is its emphasis on private sector participation in space activities. The policy aims to create an enabling environment for the private sector to participate in various space-related activities, including building launch vehicles, providing launch services, and developing space-based applications.

According to the Economic Survey of India, there have been over 100 active space companies since 2012. Many of them are currently vying for approval from the newly formed InSpace, or the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre, an institution that serves as a liaison between ISRO and private sector enterprises.

Furthermore, the policy also emphasizes the importance of international cooperation in space activities for peaceful exploration and use of outer space. The policy aims to promote international partnerships for joint space missions and exchange of space-related data and information.

Overall, the Indian Space Policy 2023 is a significant step towards providing a clear and comprehensive roadmap for the country’s space activities. The policy aims to build on India’s past successes in space and position the country as a leader in space technology for socio-economic development and national security.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) recently released the Indian Space Policy 2023, which provides a strategic roadmap for the country’s space activities. This policy outlines India’s goals and strategies for advancing its space capabilities for national development, security, and global cooperation.

One of the key highlights of the policy is the emphasis on developing and launching advanced space technologies for scientific exploration, communication, navigation, and earth observation. ISRO has a strong record of accomplishment in this area, having launched several successful missions such as the Chandrayaan lunar exploration missions, Mars Orbiter Mission, and numerous satellite launches for earth observation, communication, and navigation purposes. The Indian Space Policy 2023 builds on this success by outlining a plan for the development of new and advanced space technologies, including the creation of new launch vehicles, satellite systems, and the use of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics.

Another important aspect of the policy is its emphasis on private sector participation in space activities. The policy aims to create an enabling environment for the private sector to participate in various space-related activities, including building launch vehicles, providing launch services, and developing space-based applications. This move is expected to provide a significant boost to India’s space industry, which has already shown significant growth potential in recent years.

The policy also highlights the importance of promoting international cooperation for peaceful exploration and use of outer space. ISRO has a long-standing record of international cooperation, having collaborated with numerous countries in space missions and satellite launches. The Indian Space Policy 2023 aims to build on this collaboration by creating new partnerships for joint space missions, exchange of space-related data and information, and supporting capacity-building efforts in other countries.

The Indian Space Policy 2023 also aims to strengthen national security by leveraging space-based assets. Space-based technologies can play a critical role in supporting the country’s defense and security operations, including satellite-based surveillance, reconnaissance, and communication systems. The policy outlines a plan for the development of new space-based assets and technologies that can help enhance the country’s national security.

Empowering the Stakeholders

In the past, India’s space sector operated primarily under the umbrella of ISRO, with the organisation being responsible for a wide range of activities, from research and development to satellite launches and commercialisation. While this centralised approach allowed for a degree of control and coordination, it also led to inefficiencies, bureaucracy, and missed opportunities in a rapidly changing global space environment.

One of the significant drawbacks of the earlier approach was the limited involvement of private players and Non-Governmental Entities (NGEs) in the space sector. This restricted access to capital, technological innovations, and market opportunities that could have accelerated India’s growth in the space domain. Moreover, with ISRO being the sole gatekeeper for space activities, the organisation often faced the challenge of balancing its research and development goals with commercialisation efforts, leading to an overburdened and resource-constrained system.

The Indian Space Policy 2023 recognizes the importance of involving various stakeholders in the country’s space activities, including the private sector, academia, research institutions, and government agencies. According to new policy,  ISRO will not do any operational and production work for the space sector and focus its energies on developing new technologies, new systems and research and development.

By encouraging NGEs to participate in a wide range of space activities, the policy seeks to create a thriving ecosystem where private enterprises can work alongside public institutions, driving technological advancements and opening new avenues for India’s space industry.

Two important stakeholders in the Indian space sector are NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) and the Indian National Space Promotion & Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe).

NSIL is a government-owned company that was created to promote the participation of the private sector in space activities. NSIL aims to provide launch services, develop space-based applications, and build satellite systems in partnership with the private sector. The Indian Space Policy 2023 places a strong emphasis on promoting private sector participation in space activities, and NSIL plays a critical role in achieving this goal. NSIL is expected to provide opportunities for the private sector to participate in space activities and leverage their capabilities to support India’s space program.

IN-SPACe, on the other hand, is a new regulatory body that was created to promote and regulate the private sector’s participation in the Indian space sector. IN-SPACe is responsible for authorizing and supervising private sector activities in space, including satellite launches, building launch vehicles, and developing space-based applications. IN-SPACe is also responsible for ensuring compliance with international laws and regulations related to space activities.

The creation of IN-SPACe is a significant step towards promoting private sector participation in space activities and reducing the dependence on government funding for space activities. IN-SPACe is expected to provide a transparent and efficient regulatory environment for the private sector to participate in space activities and promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the space sector.

In addition to NSIL and IN-SPACe, other stakeholders in the Indian space sector include research institutions, academic institutions, and government agencies such as ISRO. These stakeholders play a critical role in developing advanced space technologies, conducting scientific research, and providing support for space activities. The Indian Space Policy 2023 aims to promote collaboration among these stakeholders and provide a conducive environment for their participation in space activities.

In conclusion, the involvement of various stakeholders, including NSIL and IN-SPACe, is critical for the success of the Indian space program. The Indian Space Policy 2023 recognizes the importance of private sector participation in space activities and creates a regulatory environment to promote their involvement. By involving multiple stakeholders and promoting collaboration among them, India can achieve its goals of advancing space technology and promoting national development and security.

International Cooperation

The Indian Space Policy 2023 highlights the importance of international cooperation and coordination, recognising the shared responsibility of nations in outer space. India is committed to collaborating with other states to address global challenges such as climate change, disaster management, and sustainable development. By sharing its satellite data and remote sensing capabilities, India can contribute to global efforts in these areas and support the UN’s sustainable development goals.

The Department of Space (DoS) has a key role in coordinating international cooperation and global space governance programs in consultation with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). This coordination can help streamline and augment India’s participation in international space law-making, allowing it to take a more active role in shaping global policies and norms. The initiative to create effective consultation mechanisms between the DoS and the MEA has the potential to strengthen India’s representation in various international fora.

The Indian Space Policy 2023 encourages NGEs to participate in the commercial recovery of asteroids and space resources. It grants them the right to possess, own, transport, use, and sell any such resources, in accordance with applicable laws and India’s international obligations. This clarification on its stance on space resource exploitation brings India closer to joining the Artemis Accords, which is a NASA-sponsored inter-agency bilateral agreement to facilitate future explorations and settlements on the Moon. If India decides to join, the race for lunar ascendency will heat up even more.

India’s stance aligns with the US state practice that commercial extraction and use of space resources do not amount to national appropriation prohibited by the Outer Space Treaty. Other countries like Luxembourg, UAE, and Japan have also incorporated similar interpretations in their domestic legislation. The clarification of India’s stance on space resource exploitation opens up thrilling developments for space law and policy enthusiasts. With China and Russia’s International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) project potentially becoming an Artemis-like alliance, the future holds exciting possibilities for space exploration and development.

Comparison of Indian Space Policy with other countries

Space has become an important domain for countries to demonstrate their technological prowess, advance scientific exploration, and promote national interests. Several major countries have developed their space policies that provide strategic roadmaps for their space activities. In this article, we will compare the Indian Space Policy 2023 with that of the United States and China.

The United States has a long-standing history of space exploration, having put the first man on the moon and developed advanced space technologies. The U.S. National Space Policy, last updated in 2010, outlines the country’s goals and strategies for space activities. The policy emphasizes the importance of maintaining U.S. leadership in space, promoting international cooperation, and leveraging space technology for national security and economic prosperity. The U.S. policy also highlights the need for developing a strong and sustainable commercial space sector to promote innovation and provide new space-based services.

China has emerged as a major player in space activities, with a rapidly growing space industry and ambitious plans for space exploration. The Chinese government has released several space policies, including the most recent one in 2021, which outlines the country’s goals for space activities. The policy emphasizes the importance of advancing space technology, promoting international cooperation, and leveraging space for national development and security. China’s policy also aims to establish a strong space industry and increase the country’s self-reliance in space technology.

Comparing these policies with the Indian Space Policy 2023, we can see several similarities and differences. Like the U.S. and China, the Indian policy emphasizes the importance of developing advanced space technology and promoting international cooperation. The Indian policy also aims to encourage private sector participation in space activities and leverage space for national development and security.

However, there are also some differences in the priorities of these policies. For example, the U.S. policy places a strong emphasis on maintaining U.S. leadership in space and promoting a strong commercial space sector. China’s policy places a greater emphasis on self-reliance in space technology and establishing a strong space industry. The Indian policy, on the other hand, places a strong emphasis on using space technology for socio-economic development, including applications such as telemedicine, precision agriculture, and disaster management.

The Indian Space Policy 2023 primarily focuses on the civilian and commercial aspects of the space sector and does not directly address the integration of civilian and military space efforts. However, given the increasing role of space in national security and defence, the absence of a clear strategy on this front is a notable omission. While the policy’s emphasis on comprehensive development may signal the eventual release of a separate space strategy document outlining the integration of commercial space initiatives with military objectives, a more direct approach to integrating civilian and military space efforts could benefit India.

In contrast, the United States has a more comprehensive approach to integrating civilian and military space efforts through public-private partnerships to develop cutting-edge technology for military applications. India may benefit from establishing a dedicated military space organization responsible for coordinating and overseeing the development of military space capabilities and fostering greater cooperation between the commercial space sector and defence agencies. Additionally, leveraging public-private partnerships to develop dual-use technologies that could serve both civilian and military objectives would promote innovation and cost savings while ensuring that India’s space program remains balanced and capable of addressing the full spectrum of space challenges.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while the space policies of major countries share some common goals and strategies, they also reflect the different priorities and objectives of each country. The Indian Space Policy 2023 is an ambitious plan that aims to position India as a leader in space technology for national development and security. By comparing it with the policies of other major countries, we can gain a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the global space domain.

Overall, the Indian Space Policy 2023 is a significant step towards providing a clear and comprehensive roadmap for the country’s space activities. This policy builds on India’s past successes in space and aims to position the country as a leader in space technology for socioeconomic development and national security.

With its ambitious goals and clear strategies, the Indian Space Policy 2023 has the potential to make a significant contribution to the country’s space industry and its overall development.

 

References and Resources also include:

https://www.news18.com/opinion/opinion-charting-a-new-trajectory-unpacking-indian-space-policy-2023-7666975.html

 

About Rajesh Uppal

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