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Draft Spacecom Policy and India's Space Sector (1 November 2020)

Draft Spacecom Policy and India's Space Sector (1 November 2020)

Why in News:

ISRO releases draft policy to regulate space communication by private players.

Context:

As the Union government gave its nod to bring reforms in the space sector by allowing private players' participation, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has released the draft of a new Spacecom Policy 2020. The policy will regulate the commercial use of satellites, orbital slots, and ground stations for communication needs. The policy also details how private players can get authorisation for setting up new communication satellites and ground stations. The private players in the space communication sector will also enable India to keep pace with the growing demand for satellite-based broadcasting, network connectivity, and global mobile personal communication.

Background:

  • In 1997, the Department of Space, in partnership with the Department of Telecommunication and the Department of Science and Technology, framed the Satellite Communication Policy, 1997 (SATCOM Policy).
  •  But, there were some limitation in involvement of private players in doing space activity.
  • In the past, the private players were involved in space activity as vendor, not as a partner, not as a doing that activity, they were involved in holding the supply of the components.

Summary of the Debate

Salient features of Spacecom Policy 2020:

  • It will govern the commercial use of orbital slots, satellites, and ground stations for communication needs by the private sector.
  • Only Indian entities will be allowed to seek authorisation for orbital slots for new satellites, services based on existing satellites and setting up new ground stations.
  • The policy makes the private players to do the space activity in efficient manner without any hurdle, and to do the job with ease.
  • It also boosts the actions of private players in doing business in space communication sector, in India as well as doing the business outside India.
  • Private industries can use ISRO’s satellite, they can also have their own satellite.
  • According to the policy, any company sending a communication satellite in space will also be responsible for any damages to other objects in space and the environment.
  • The new policy will help India attain a significant position in the global space communication sector.ISRO Missions and Discoveries – Civilsdaily
  • In terms of satellite owning, in terms of the ground session setup, in terms of providing services to the common people, there are no restriction.

The Upcoming Projects from IRSO:

  • Gaganyan: Sending human in space and bring them safely back to earth.
  • Chandrayaan 3: To land safely on moon, Chandrayaan-3 is likely to be launched in early 2021.
  • Propulsion system in the satellite: ISRO is working on launching vehicles with "Electric Propulsion System" so that large satellites can be sent into space by the agency.
  • Heavy lift launcher: ISRO is conducting preliminary research for the development of a super heavy-lift launch vehicle which is planned to have a lifting capacity of over 50-60 tonnes Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).

Challenges:

  • The major concern is to make sure that this high precedent technology should not go in wrong hand.
  • The rules regarding use of Image taken by a spacecraft for domestic purpose and for other purpose are very stringent and there is need to have a very flexible rules for the private people to do the job, at the same time making sure that it is not used in a wrong way.
  • ISRO is not fully self-sufficient in its launch vehicle. For bigger satellite launch, ISRO is still dependent on foreign countries.
  • The novel coronavirus pandemic has affected ISRO programs, due to which many programs of ISRO has been delayed including the launch of Chandrayaan-3.

Coordination of ISRO with other space agencies:

  • NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar Mission (NISAR): NASA's first global SAR mission, in partnership with ISRO, providing data for studying hazards, changes in glaciers and ice sheets, and global environmental.
  • TRISHNA: ISRO, and the French space agency CNES have partnered in developing advance upgradation satellite like TRISHNA to monitor the water cycle to help in finding out proper ways to utilize it.
  • Gaganyaan project: The four Indian astronauts training in Russia for the Gaganyaan project – India’s first manned space mission.
  • Lunar Polar Exploration Mission (LUPEX): Collaboration between ISRO and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to have a combined mission, to send a lunar rover and lander to explore the south pole region of the Moon in 2024.
  • Duchifat 3: Last year, a small remote sensing satellite weighing 2.3 kilogram, built by students in Israel, was part of the nine commercial satellites launched by ISRO along with its own earth observation satellite.

Connclusion:

  • With the new Spacecom Policy 2020, Private players are not only going to serve the country but they also going to have big share from the International market also. It is important for all the stakeholders to take India as a technical powerhouse in the global level so that very soon India will lead the global community in the technological area.

Important points made by the Guests

Dr. K. Sivan, Chairman, ISRO

  • Now, the private payers are allowed to carry out their space activity on their own. All these provisions, the policy we are making and not only the spacecom policy, but there are also another policies which are going to come like Navigation policy, remote sensing policy, launch vehicle policy, space exploration policy, etc.
  • We have opened this particular opportunity for private people, we had an excellent response from the private people.
  • Big Industries wants to take the entire activities of launching the satellite, they want to take the ownership.
  • We are not only allowing the private players to carry out the task, we are handholding and we are ready to provide our technology to them to do the job and we are ready to share our facility with them to carry out their activities.
  • ISRO right now is doing the operational mission, the commercial mission to serve the country, we are trying to do the new technology development parallelly to meet the future demand.
  • When new entrepreneurs will come into the mission, half of the load of ISRO will be taken away by them so that ISRO can concentrate mostly on the technological development.
  • There is so much money involved in the space economy. Out of the total $ 360 bn space economy, nearly, 48 percent of that money is involved in ground system that is supply and Insulation and nearly 45 percent of the money is involved in the applications.
  • We are going to have Space Act bill and we are going to have ‘In space mechanism’ in the Department of Space and we are allowing the private players to do the work to ensure that this technology is not getting utilized for the wrong purpose and all the necessary safety, security and legal directorates are going to be in space so that all aspects will be addressed.

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