Industry Wants Govt To Speed Up Activation Of Space Sector Regulator

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CHENNAI, Dec 19 (IANS): If not at rocket speed, the government should speed up considerably the measures to activate the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) – the regulator for private players in the space sector – and man it with people from outside ISRO, said space sector officials in the private and government sectors.
They said the government should come out with various sectoral policies so that there is clarity for the private players.
As a part of opening up the space sector, the Indian government has constituted IN-SPACe as an autonomous agency in the Department of Space (DOS).
The government has also announced Pawan Kumar Goenka, former managing director, Mahindra & Mahindra, as the chairman of IN-SPACe.
The IN-SPACe will be the regulator for private players in the space sector. It will also enable usage of Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) facilities by them.
“The IN-SPACe should definitely be working faster and the same is expected of the agency. It is said that there are numerous proposals waiting in the pipeline, without communication. This is leading to a delay in various timelines and expectations from the private start-ups,” a top official of a space start-up told IANS preferring anonymity.
“It is only with time that the private entities would get clarity on what to exactly expect from IN-SPACe, as and when there are entities establishing collaborations,” the official added.
Another top official of a private start-up told IANS: “What we expect is our programme shouldn’t be delayed due to regulatory roadblocks. We are sure IN-SPACe is being established at the optimum speed possible.”
Officials in the private sector space industry also said there should be a start-up representative on the IN-SPACe board.
Industry officials also told IANS that the government should create an appellate forum for grievance redressal similar to the telecom sector.
“Test facilities for the private sector to be made available on equal priority as approved government missions. Single window clearance without needing approvals from other ministries and time bound action by IN-SPACe,” they added as their expectations.
“The constitution of the IN-SPACe Board has been approved and the establishment of various directorates to support the activities of IN-SPACe is under process,” minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh told Parliament recently.
“On the manning of IN-SPACe, many officials of ISRO are being posted there. The IN-SPACe should bring in people from outside to give a broader perspective,” a senior official in the government space sector told IANS preferring anonymity.
According to the sector officials, the roles and responsibilities of ISRO and IN-SPACe should be clearly spelt out.
On the policy front, the government has come out with drafts of the Spacecom Policy 2020, Remote Sensing Policy of India 2020 and National Geospatial Policy 2021.
The government has to come out with its revised foreign direct investment policy for the sector and also pass the Space Activities Bill in Parliament.
“All draft policies have been liberal and forward looking,” Pawan Kumar Chandana, CEO and Chief Technology officer, Skyroot Aerospace, told IANS.
Skyroot Aerospace is developing rockets for putting the earth observation satellites into orbit.
“The draft regulations seem fairly promising in terms of easing access to the market and actually opening up the space for private players,” said Denil Chawda, co-founder & CTO, GalaxEye Space Solutions Pvt Ltd, that is developing satellites.
Conventionally, data obtained from satellites passes through several regulatory agencies for various reasons. As of now, there is limited clarity on the process to be followed with the newer policy in place, said Pranit Mehta, founding member and vice president, Business Development GlaxaEye Space.
“Further, this would be the first time that private entities would own and operate satellites, and sell data to the world. There are still several factors to be thought of, that might only come with time, as and when the Indian Ecosystem grows and expands,” Mehta said.
Agreeing with the need for separate policies for different aspects of the space sector, Mehta added: “Start-ups in this sector don’t follow a conventional journey. Various differentiating factors include time to market, capital requirement, facilities for end-to-end development, space grade electronics and others. Policies specific to space start-ups will allow for ease of access to all kinds of resources, be it financial, mechanical or human resources.”

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