Space Bill & Potential of India’s Space Sector

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    In Context

    • A new space Bill — a legal framework for commercial use of space will soon be released.

    More about the new bill

    • The 2017 Bill:
      • The previous Bill (of 2017) provides for imprisonment of up to three years and fine of over Rs 1 crore if 
        • any activity is undertaken without prior licensing
        • false information is furnished, or 
        • it pollutes earth, airspace, outer space or celestial bodies.
      • Issues with the bill (2017):
        • This bill was criticised for being a little harsh. 
        • Also, Imprisonment was a very major disincentive for the industry, so the government sought to remove it.
    • About the new bill:
      • Leniency:
        • It will do away with provisions for imprisonment.
        • The bill will be lenient when it comes to criminal charges. 
      • Insurance mechanism:
        • It will also create mechanisms for insurance damages. 
        • Significance of insurance:
          • The cost of insurance (for space activities) is very high. 
          • Today, ISRO does not pay for it because it is a government commitment, but when a private player is there, they will need insurance.

    Potential of India’s space sector

    • Recently, a joint report was prepared by EY and the Indian Space Association (ISpA).
      • Report highlights:
        • Indian space economy:
          • The Indian space economy is set to reach $13 billion by 2025, according to this joint report.
        • Space launch segment:
          • The report also said the space launch segment would grow fastest at a CAGR of 13% spurred by growing private participation, latest technology adoption and low cost of launch services.
        • Satellite services and application segment:
          • This segment would form the largest share of the space economy accounting for 36% of the space economy by 2025, as per the study.
          • On the country’s satellite manufacturing opportunity, it said in 2020 it was $2.1 billion and this would reach $3.2 billion by 2025.
          • Also, by 2025, satellite manufacturing would be the second fastest-growing segment in the Indian space economy. 
        • Space tech start-ups:
          • There are over 100 space tech start-ups in the country and investments in space tech start-ups increased 196% y-o-y in 2021, the survey said.
        • Space parks:
          • Space parks that are coming up across the country would give a fillip to companies operating across the space value chain, especially manufacturing, found the study.
    • India’s upcoming commercial launch:
      • Marking the shift towards the private sector, India’s heaviest rocket, GSLV Mk III, will launch 36 satellites OneWeb global communication satellite constellation. 
        • This is the first commercial launch by the vehicle, so far having carried two ISRO communication satellites for two of its development flights and the Chandrayaan-2 for its first operational flight.

    Significance of the Space industry

    •  Assessing & recording weather information:
      • Satellites provide more accurate information on weather forecasts. 
      • It can also assess (and record) long-term trends in the climate and habitability of a region. 
        • For example, by monitoring the long-term impact of climate change at regional, territorial, and national scales, governments would be able to devise more pragmatic and combative plans of action for farmers and dependent industries. 
    • Real-time tracking :
      • Satellites can serve as real-time monitoring and early-warning solutions against natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, wildfires, mining etc. 
      • Real-time tracking can also serve multiple purposes in defence.
    • Communication and connectivity:
      • As for connectivity, satellite communication can reach more remote areas where conventional networks would require heavy complimenting infrastructure. 
      • Additionally, as to the reliability, the World Economic Forum(WEF) stated that satellite communication can help connect 49% of the world’s unconnected population
      • In this light, it must be noted that satellite communications, which are used to facilitate telecommunication services, are among the major categories for investment in the space technology sector. 
      • Other prominent categories include spacecraft and equipment manufacturing.
    • Benefits to other sectors:
      • The space avenue is an integration of the aerospace, IT hardware and telecom sectors
      • It is thus argued that investment in this arena would foster positive carryover effects to other sectors as well.

    About Indian Space Association (ISpA)

    • Aim: 
      • To supplement the Centre’s efforts in commercial space exploration and space-based communication.
    • Members: 
      • Various stakeholders in the Indian space domain with members comprising the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Bharti Airtel, OneWeb, Tata Group’s Nelco, L&T, MapMyIndia among others.
    • About:
      • ISpA is an industry association for private players in space.
      • It is an organisation meant to represent the interests of the space sector with government and private sector bodies across the board.
      • It will support start-ups and will work towards facilitating and enabling private players to work in tandem with ISRO.
      • The industry association will act as an independent and “single-window” agency for enabling the opening up of the space sector to start-ups and the private sector.
    • The progress:
      • While ISpA has grown from seven members to more than 50 members in a year, the number of space sector start-ups in the country has also boomed from just a handful two years ago, before the space sector was opened up, to over a hundred now.

    Source: TH