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'NewSpace in India will need private sector as co-traveller'

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The Times Of India
13th September, 2021 17:19 IST

BENGALURU: To fulfill the ambitions of “building ‘ NewSpace ’ in India” — to enhance India’s share in the global space economy and develop into a space power to reckon with — India will need the private sector to be a co-traveller in the new journey, experts and stakeholders at the International space conference and exhibition said on Monday.

India, which has been formally pushing reforms in the space sector since mid-2020, has already begun enabling private industry in the space sector with a slew of draft policies and creation of Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center ( IN-SPACe ), the nodal agency that will promote, hand-hold, monitor and authorise the private sector.

Just last week, the appointments committee of the cabinet (ACC) cleared the formation of the IN-SPACe board with former Manindra and Mahindra managing director Pawan Goenka as its chairman.

Speaking at the conference jointly organised by the CII, Isro, Antrix and New Space India Limited (NSIL), Isro chairman K Sivan said: “Internationally, collaboration is increasing in the sector and space can no longer be confined to government efforts in India. I am glad that the industry, both big and small, are ready to support in the efforts to create NewSpace. The Department of Space (DoS) sees startups as the newage industry partners and we’ll enable them to go global.”

Sivan added that partnerships are necessary for sustaining the space sector which is highly capital intensive and complex and pointed out how the DoS, through its policies, sharing of infrastructure and technology among other things, is working towards enabling the same.

IN-SPACe chairman-designate Pawan Goenka said: “In my new role, I am looking to set targets, define strategies, responsibilities and monitor the same. India’s share of the $440-billion global space economy is less than 2% and this is something we will work towards changing. It is too early for me to speak of a specific number.”

Big Bets & Global Share

Pointing out how the investments in new space companies in India is just about $21 million which is less than half a per cent of the global investments in spacetech companies, Goenka said that while regulatory framework and policy will work as facilitators, India will need the private sector to make big bets and take risks to push the frontiers.

NSIL CMD Radhakrishnan D , said: “Space is a very complex and capital intensive sector that takes decades of effort to create an ecosystem which the DoS has done. For private entities to leapfrog, it is important that they have access to such infrastructure and technologies, which we will ensure by working closely with the DoS and the private sector.”

R Umamaheshwaran, scientific secretary, DoS, and head of IN-SPACe interim committee, while pointing out that the response and excitement from the private industry was not just a revelation of the potential of the sector, but also reinforces the vision of the government to make India self-sufficient through enhanced private participation.

“Of the many proposals we received and have been reviewing, we found a high level of innovativeness. And what is important is that proposals are from both downstream activities like space-based applications and upstream activities like building of launch vehicles and satellites,” Maheshwaran said.

Rajan Navani, chairman, CII India@75 Council, said that the CII will give full support to NSIL and work closely on converting opportunities into growth.

The virtual conference has 65 registered exhibitors and participation from eight countries, including Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, Israel, the UK, and the US. Australia is the partner country and the Netherlands is the guest country.

Gaganyaan Tracking & Oz Partnership

In an official statement, Australia said its delegation will be led by Anthony Murfett, deputy head, Australian Space Agency, and will include 95+ delegates representing Australian federal and state governments, leading space industry firms, world-class academic institutions, space start- ups and incubators. Over the course of the conference 17 Australian experts are expected to address various sessions.

Murfett said: “Australia and India have a strong history of collaboration, partnering in space for more than 35 years. We’re particularly excited to support India’s ambitious Gaganyaan mission, by supporting the tracking of the mission from Australia’s Cocos (Keeling) Islands.”

The TOI was the first to report that Australia will lead cross-govt liasoning for Gagnayaan tracking terminal at Keeling islands on February 20.

A dedicated Australian country session will be held on September 23, exploring commercial collaboration opportunities between Australia and India with further high-level government and business participation.

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